Blog Editor’s Note: Solar weather is the primary reason loss of GNSS appears of the UK risk register. The risk register, in turn, was the impetus for two UK government studies on the impacts of losing GNSS for 5 days (not good at all). As we have mentioned before, Russia, China, and some other nations have retained terrestrial wireless PNT systems (Loran) that, even if momentarily disrupted by a major solar event, could be quickly restored afterward.
Solar storms are powerful blasts of energy from the Sun that render technology useless and trigger space weather events. Mild outbursts of charged particles from the Sun excited the gases in our atmosphere and produce beautiful aurora or Northern Lights. But the Sun is incredibly unpredictable and the European Space Agency (ESA) fears the world is unprepared for when a major solar storm strikes.
According to ESA, solar storms can jeopardise satellite operations and the technology that relies on them.
On the ground, cars and mobile devices can lose contact with GPS satellites.
Radio frequencies can be disrupted, potentially cutting off emergency services from contact in disaster zones.
Even powers systems can become overloaded and suffer outages and full-on blackouts.