Image: Johns Hopkins

What’s New: Another reminder about a threat to GPS satellites and signals no one has any control over.

Why It’s Important:

  • Solar activity can disrupt GPS and other GNSS signals for days. In the most extreme cases it can destroy satellites.
  • The geological record shows these events are not as uncommon as we might like.

What Else to Know:

  • GPS satellites are military equipment hardened against such things. They will likely survive events other satellites will not.
  • GPS signals can be easily disrupted.
  • Many services and infrastructures, including electrical grids, can be impacted by severe solar events. It is up to everyone to do what they can in their area of influence to protect against such things.
  • For more see “Is the Sun our Biggest Enemy in Space?


Earthlings take note: The sun will be its most active in two decades

The sun’s 2024 resolution came in: Let’s get moving.

Solar flares, eruptions on the sun’s surface and sunspots are expected to multiply and intensify throughout this year, as our yellow star enters its most active period in two decades. For Earthlings, that could lead to more beautiful dancing aurora far and wide, but also radio blackouts and satellite disruptions.

“The level of activity here is the biggest it’s been since about 20 years, since about 2003,” said Mark Miesch, a member of the solar modeling team at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

If the sun replicates its 2003 behavior, Earth could be in for a treat but also some issues. The Halloween Storms of 2003 brought dazzling green, red and purple aurora all the way to California, Texas, Florida and even Australia. They also disrupted more than half of all spacecraft orbiting Earth, damaged a satellite beyond repair and created communication issues for airlines and research groups in Antarctica.