Image: NASA

What’s New: A brief mention in a Wall Street Journal article titled “The Next Big Solar Storm Could Fry the Grid“:

“The undersea cables that carry most global internet traffic use fiber optics to transmit data. Those cables don’t carry electricity, but they do have conductive wires to deliver power to repeaters that boost the optical signal. The wires make cables vulnerable to being knocked out by large magnetic fluxes during solar storms–a prospect one researcher dubbed the “internet apocalypse.

Why It’s Important:

  • Per the article “…it’s a near certainty that some form of this catastrophe will happen someday…”
  • It reminds us about the fragility of our systems and the need to build in resilience from the start.
  • Another thing to consider in a system-of-systems approach to PNT resilience.

What Else to Know:

  • The PNT resilience triad consists of signals from space, terrestrial broadcast, and fiber because of the lack of common failure modes.
  • We understand terrestrial broadcast can be built so it will:
    • Shut down during a catastrophic solar event and remains undamaged.
    • Hold time sync during a solar event
    • Come back up and self-synchronize indefinitely once the solar event is past.


The Next Big Solar Storm Could Fry the Grid

Scientists are using artificial intelligence to better predict what the sun will do and give Earth more warning to protect satellites and electronics.

One day, you wake up, and the power is out. You try to get information on your phone, and you have no internet access. Gradually you discover millions of people across the U.S. are in the same situation–one that will bring months or years of rebuilding.

gigantic solar storm has hit Earth.

The odds are low that in any given year a storm big enough to cause effects this widespread will happen. And the severity of those impacts will depend on many factors, including the state of our planet’s magnetic field on that day. But it’s a near certainty that some form of this catastrophe will happen someday, says Ian Cohen, a chief scientist who studies heliophysics at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.