by Hayley Dunning, Imperial College London

Large magnetic storms from the Sun, which affect technologies such as GPS and utility grids, could soon be predicted more than 24 hours in advance.

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are eruptions of gas and magnetized material from the Sun that have the potential to wreak havoc on satellites and Earth-bound technologies, disrupting radio transmissions and causing transformer blowouts and blackouts.

These mass ejections can cause problems with GPS technology—used by all kinds of vehicles, from cars to oil tankers to tractors. For example, they can affect the ability of aircraft systems to judge precisely a plane’s distance from the ground for landing, leading to planes being unable to land for up to an hour.

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