The U.S. prepares for space storms that could crash critical networks all over the world. A massive solar storm could bring down satellites, spacecraft and telecommunication systems all over the country and several other major regions of the world and the U.S. is taking precautionary measures to protect vital systems from being damaged.
According to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center the Earth has a 12 percent chance of being hit by a massive solar storm that could cause serious economic damage worth an estimated $2 trillion over the course of the next ten years. The organization explains that the Earth is constantly bombarded with charged subatomic particles traveling on solar winds but that, usually, these particles are deflected by the magnetic field surrounding the planet. This solar storm could breach it though.
Scientists say that while they can see the signs of the storm building up, they can’t predict when exactly it is going to happen. And while they admit they are unable to stop the solar storm, a remote early warning system could help send us vital information on the upcoming storm at the speed of light, so that vital systems to be turned off before any damage can come to them.
The NOAA organization will soon replace an old satellite whose technology has become antiquated with a new Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite (DSCOVR) at a meeting point half way between the distance of Earth and the sun. When DSCOVR will pick up on the first sign of a solar flare, it will then send information to notify Earth of the incoming storm. The alert will be received on Earth up to one hour before the particles actually start bombarding the planet.
This will ensure enough time for the U.S. to turn off its essential systems before the damage can be done to them. The information will also allow scientists to know what magnitude the solar flare will have and help them estimate what it could damage and how badly it could affect the systems at stake.
The plan was established and is being coordinated by the National Science and Technology Council, which is directing several departments to establish benchmarks based on the predictions scientists have so far. They are working on creating engineering standards, developing vulnerability assessments, establishing decision points for action, and making response and recovery planning techniques better suited for this kind of situation.
The U.S. is not the only country bracing itself for the solar storm to come. The European Space Agency has also recently announced plans to work with scientists from 14 different European countries in order to develop a network of its own.
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