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Solar storms can destroy satellites with ease
ManuDate: Saturday, 05-March-2022, 5:10 AM | Message # 1
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Solar storms can destroy satellites with ease: A space weather expert explains the science
by Piyush Mehta, The Conversation

The sun occasionally ejects large amounts of energy and particles into space that can smash into Earth. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO via WikimediaCommons

On Feb. 4, 2022, SpaceX launched 49 satellites as part of Elon Musk's Starlink internet project, most of which burned up in the atmosphere days later. The cause of this more than US$50 million failure was a geomagnetic storm caused by the sun.

Geomagnetic storms occur when space weather hits and interacts with the Earth. Space weather is caused by fluctuations within the sun that blast electrons, protons and other particles into space. I study the hazards space weather poses to space-based assets and how scientists can improve the models and prediction of space weather to protect against these hazards.

When space weather reaches Earth, it triggers many complicated processes that can cause a lot of trouble for anything in orbit. And engineers like me are working to better understand these risks and defend satellites against them.

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