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what_kind_of_damage_do_solar_storms_cause_to_satellites 2009/02/02 13:19 current
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 +**I've read about the recent very large "solar storm" and would like to
 +know what kinds of damage can be experienced by the many satellites in
 + orbit around the earth. Are some types of satellite more likely to be
 + damaged than others- ie communication vs optical like Hubble.
 +Solar storms can be energetic particles from the sun, disturbed regions of
 +magnetic fields, large amounts of x-rays and radio waves from the sun, or
 +combinations of these. Normally, Earth's magnetic field is strong enough
 +that most satellites, even the weather satellites (which are in
 +geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles away) are within the magnetic field and
 +therefore protected from most of the cosmic rays.
 +However, when a magnetic storm passes the Earth, Earth's magnetic controll
 +shrinks. Often satellites in higher orbits (especially geosynchronous
 +orbits) and orbits that cross Earth's poles can end up outside of Earth's
 +magnetosphere, and these satellites are then exposed to damaging cosmic
 +rays. Satellites in low orbits (like the space station, space shuttle,
 +Hubble, etc.) are generally still protected.
 +The solar storm you heard about also featured a "proton event," where
 +high-energy protons from the sun stream toward the Earth. These protons
 +have enough energy to penetrate Earth's magnetic field, and so all
 +satellites are in danger from these storms. The worst danger is for
 +spacewalking astronauts, who would receive very high (perhaps dangerously
 +high) levels of radiation. Astronauts onboard the space shuttle and the
 +space station are usually protected from these storms by special
 +You can read more about solar storms, and especially about currently
 +active storms, from the Space Environment Center:
 +Thanks for writing!
 +Kurtis Williams
what_kind_of_damage_do_solar_storms_cause_to_satellites.txt · Last modified: 2009/02/02 13:19 by czars · [Old revisions]