NASA Warns Of Comms And Electric Grid Disruptions As Sun Spews Solar Flares

hero nasa sdo solar flare
NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory, or SDO, detected three strong solar flares with the potential to disrupt radio communications, electric power grids, navigation signals, and could even pose a risk to spacecraft and astronauts. The first flare detected was an X1.8 flare, the second flare being classified as an X1.7 flare, and the third as a massive X6.3 flare.

The first solar flare peaked at 6:07pm EST on February 21, 2024, and the second peaked at 1:32am EST on February 22, 2024. The third solar flare, which peaked at 5:34pm EST, was the strongest flare of the current solar cycle.

NOAA reported that all three solar flares were rated as R3 on its Space Weather Scales. An R3 rating is described as being “Strong,” and being able to cause wide area blackout of HF radio communications, and loss of radio contact for about an hour on the sunlit side of Earth. Low-frequency navigation signals could also be degraded for about an hour.

x6 solar flare

Being that solar flares can affect communication systems, AT&T customers may wonder if these recent ones caused an outage of cell phone service yesterday. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that it is highly unlikely. NOAA also reported that, while the third solar flare was immense, it does not pose any risk to the public.

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will at times occur along with strong solar flares. According to NASA, CMEs are enormous bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by intense magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over several hours. However, NOAA reported that no resulting CMEs were observed in coronagraph imagery following the recent three solar flares. The agency believes that high solar activity is expected to continue through February 25 with M-class flares being likely, and a chance for X-class flares because of the recent history of active regions 3590 and 3591.

Anyone who would like to keep track of when a solar flare occurs can do so by visiting NOAA’s website.
Tags:  space, Sun, NASA, cme, solar flare, sdo