It was in January 1994 that two Canadian telecommunications satellites blanked out during a major sunburst while in geosynchronous orbit and communications were disrupted nationwide.
While recovery occurred after only a few hours on the first satellite, it took some six months and more than $70 million to recover the second satellite.
Then in January 2005, some 26 United Airlines flights had to be diverted during a space weather storm to non-polar routes – to avoid the prospect of high frequency radio blackouts.
Added were landings and takeoffs, flight time and other factors that elevated fuel consumption and costs. Each route change ended up costing more than $100,000.
Then in February 2011, there was a sun eruption experts described as the largest solar flare in four years. It caused interference in radio communications and global positioning system signals for aircraft traveling long-distances.
While it was a modest outburst, experts say it signaled the beginning of an upcoming Read more…
The wave of solar storms that has pounded Earth over the past several weeks is only likely to get worse over the next year, according to a NASA scientist.
Sunspot 1429, the active region of the sun responsible for the flares, has been getting larger over the past several weeks, making it less stable and more likely for additional flares to erupt, which can cause damage to GPS satellites and electronic systems on our planet. NASA reported that the sunspot is now more than seven times the width of earth.
“The larger [the active region] is, the more likely it’s going to produce another big flare,” Phillip Chamberlin, deputy project scientist for the Solar Dynamics Observatory says. “It’s growing, and it’s becoming more dynamic, building energy.”
Over the weekend, two large flares erupted from the region. NASA says the wind and energy particles associated with the flare, began to affect Earth Monday. The region is dangerous for Read more…
WASHINGTON (AP) — The largest solar flare in five years is racing toward Earth, threatening to unleash a torrent of charged particles that could disrupt power grids, GPS and airplane flights.
The sun erupted Tuesday evening, and the effects should start smacking Earth around 7 a.m. EST Thursday, according to forecasters at the federal government’s Space Weather Prediction Center. They say the flare is growing as it speeds outward from the sun.
“It’s hitting us right in the nose,” said Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He called it the sun’s version of “Super Read more…
|Video still showing China’s Shenzhou 8 spacecraft docked with the Tiangong 1 lab module on Nov. 3, 2011.
CREDIT: China Central Television
The rise of China’s space program may pose a potentially serious military threat to the United States down the road, top American intelligence officials contend.
China continues to develop technology designed to destroy or disable satellites, which makes the United States and other nations with considerable on-orbit assets nervous. Even Beijing’s ambitious human spaceflight plans are cause for some concern, since most space-technology advances could have military applications, officials say.
“The space program, including ostensible civil projects, supports China’s growing ability to Read more…
A Missouri federal judge ruled the FBI did not need a warrant to secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to a suspect’s car to track his public movements for two months.
The ruling, upholding federal theft and other charges, is one in a string of decisions nationwide supporting warrantless GPS surveillance. Last week’s decision comes as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue within months in an unrelated case.
The ruling from Magistrate David Noce mirrored the Obama administration position before the Supreme Court during oral arguments on the topic in November. In short, defendant Fred Robinson, who was suspected of fudging his time sheets for his treasurer’s office job for the city of St. Louis, had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his public movements, Magistrate Noce said.
Noce ruled: (.pdf)
Here, installation of the GPS tracker device onto defendant Robinson’s Cavalier was not a Read more…
North Korean mobile jammers