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Giant Sunspot Forms, Poised to Aim M-Class Solar Flare Toward Earth

Giant Sunspot Forms, Poised to Aim M-Class Solar Flare Toward Earth

Increased solar activity is causing satellites to plummet from orbit.

Legal Insurrection readers may recall that I wrote about the sun experiencing an intense period of activity this February.  In April, radio blackouts in Asia and Australia were recently triggered by a double solar eruption from one sunspot.

The sun certainly hasn’t slowed down. Scientists recently issued a dire warning after an enormous sunspot named AR3038 doubled in size and pointed at the earth, which could lead to a large solar flare potentially striking the planet.

Otherworldly footage released from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory revealed how the huge sunspot has been evolving at a rapid rate, according to Science Times.

“Yesterday, sunspot AR3038 was big,” scientists told SpaceWeather.com. “Today, it’s enormous. The fast-growing sunspot has doubled in size in only 24 hours.”

They added, “AR3038 has an unstable ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares, and it is directly facing Earth.”

There is some good news. The earth will be in the flare zone for only a few days, and M-class solar flares tend not to be extremely disruptive.

When a solar flare hits Earth’s upper atmosphere, the flare’s X-rays and ultraviolet radiation ionize atoms, making it impossible to bounce high-frequency radio waves off them and creating a so-called radio blackout. Radio blackouts occur over the areas on Earth that are lit by the sun while a flare is underway; such blackouts are classified from R1 to R5 according to ascending severity.

…As solar flares travel at the speed of light, they take only 8 minutes to reach us, from an average distance of about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

If an Earth-facing sunspot forms near the sun’s equator (where AR3038 is located), it typically takes just under two weeks for it to travel across the sun so that it is no longer facing Earth, according to SpaceWeatherLive. Currently, AR3038 lies slightly to the north of the sun’s equator and is just over halfway across, so Earth will remain in its crosshairs for a few more days.

Despite its alarmingly speedy growth, the giant sunspot is less scary than it may seem. The flares it will most likely produce are M-class solar flares, which “generally cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions,” alongside minor radiation storms, the European Space Agency wrote in a blog post. M-class flares are the most common type of solar flare.

There is also some bad news. The world has become very dependent on satellites for communications and internet access. The uptick in solar activity in this cycle phase could mean satellites plunging back to earth.

In late 2021, operators of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm constellation noticed something worrying: The satellites, which measure the magnetic field around Earth, started sinking toward the atmosphere at an unusually fast rate — up to 10 times faster than before. The change coincided with the onset of the new solar cycle, and experts think it might be the beginning of some difficult years for spacecraft orbiting our planet.

“In the last five, six years, the satellites were sinking about two and a half kilometers [1.5 miles] a year,” Anja Stromme, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, told Space.com. “But since December last year, they have been virtually diving. The sink rate between December and April has been 20 kilometers [12 miles] per year.”

….”There is a lot of complex physics that we still don’t fully understand going on in the upper layers of the atmosphere where it interacts with the solar wind,” Stromme said. “We know that this interaction causes an upwelling of the atmosphere. That means that the denser air shifts upwards to higher altitudes.”

Denser air means higher drag for the satellites. Even though this density is still incredibly low 250 miles above Earth, the increase caused by the upwelling atmosphere is enough to virtually send some of the low-orbiting satellites plummeting.

“It’s almost like running with the wind against you,” Stromme said. “It’s harder, it’s drag — so it slows the satellites down, and when they slow down, they sink.”

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The Signaleers are going to lose their damn minds trying to explain this to some Infantry Full Bird COL Chief of Division Staff. Have fun fellas!

    Olinser in reply to CommoChief. | June 27, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    0602 here. I do NOT envy them.

    After a couple good-faith attempts to actually explain to infantry guys how radios and crypto actually WORKED, I fell back on, ‘look you push the button, some science happens, and you can talk to the guy on the other side’.

    The last straw was somebody ‘explaining’ that ‘satellite waves’ were different from radio waves.

      CommoChief in reply to Olinser. | June 27, 2022 at 9:25 pm

      Been there, never had an issue with Company grade Officers or NCOs or EM as long as I was patient some of those enlisted infantry are plenty sharp, sharper than their Officers. The O5 and O6 is a different animal. They aren’t used to being told ‘no’. They don’t care why the answer is no. They don’t like it all.

      The best reaction I ever had was after explaining source jamming to a new BDE CDR and that’s why his shit didn’t work and all he needed to do was relocate to make it happen (to the place I originally recommend during planning for precisely that reason FWIW).

      Dude just throws down his cigar and yelled at me that he ‘don’t care why it doesn’t work and it’s my job to effen fix it’ and he would ‘fire my ass if I couldn’t.’ I saluted, said yes sir and good luck.

      Dude flips out again ‘WTF do I need good luck for’? Response -to find someone who can bend the laws of the physical universe to met his desires. I walked back to my vehicle and in 5 minutes he came over and apologized then relocated to the place I had recommended. Never had another issue from the man because I stood up to him and he had my back until he PCSd. Just a new BDE CDR sweating the new responsibility and not wanting to be viewed as making a mistake. Not a bad guy, just a case of momentary nerves getting him riled up.

        Tsquared in reply to CommoChief. | June 28, 2022 at 8:26 am

        The best description I ever heard from an infantry officer, “the blinky light isn’t blinky anymore.” The satellite modem lost it’s 10 megahertz reference signal. It had a backup and was easily fixed.

          CommoChief in reply to Tsquared. | June 28, 2022 at 10:07 am

          Yeah good ole blinky light is an important indicator but hey at least they called for help v trying to ‘fix it’

The Gentle Grizzly | June 27, 2022 at 7:20 pm

1). Will this be used as another excuse for mail-in ballots?

2) Will there be mask mandates?

    I live in commiefornia. They don’t even need an excuse anymore.

    I got an utterly unsolicited mail-in ballot in my box along with BOTH of my neighbor’s ballots. Apparently they literally send a ballot to every single voter now regardless of request.

    It is utterly insane that this is allowed. You CANNOT have a fair and legitimate election with this insanity happening.

henrybowman | June 27, 2022 at 7:26 pm

Cool. Now, how do you cause a giant meteor?

So we’ll have a holiday free from government tracking our movements. This would be a good time to invade Canada.

A powerful solar flare, light can knock out satellites.

“Light can do that?”

Light might be tiny particles but they move really fast.

“How fast?”

…. dies from stroke …

nordic prince | June 27, 2022 at 7:46 pm

It’s all Putin’s fault.

This must be caused by global warming, now even affecting the sun.

Ionizing is what makes it possible to reflect radio waves. The more ionized, the higher the frequency of the radio wave reflection cutoff.

What ionizing kills is low frequency radio waves if it happens in the lower atmosphere. Then the ions pick up energy from the radio waves, and instead of returning it back a half cycle later, they lose the energy to collisions with other atmospheric particles. Nothing gets through and nothing is reflected.

So AM radio is limited distance in the day and continent-wide at night, normally. It’s low enough frequency to always reflect from the ionosphere, but it can’t get that far in the daytime.

    nordic prince in reply to rhhardin. | June 27, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    Heaviside layer.

      CommoChief in reply to nordic prince. | June 27, 2022 at 9:30 pm

      Just how many of us nerds are on this site anyway?

        NorthernNewYorker in reply to CommoChief. | June 27, 2022 at 9:49 pm

        Jellicle cats come out tonight,
        Jellicle cats come one come all…

          CommoChief in reply to NorthernNewYorker. | June 27, 2022 at 10:12 pm

          Sorry Bro, I’m a different breed of cat/ nerd than that. Have fun at cosplay.. assuming it’s cosplay…not a surgically created lifestyle… you aren’t trying to track me are you? Kidding maybe I hope? Don’t put me on a list dude. Anyway I never really liked that musical even the original run.

          nordic prince in reply to NorthernNewYorker. | June 27, 2022 at 10:37 pm

          I knew that “Cats” was a musical but that’s about it…didn’t know that they appropriated “Heaviside layer” until I saw it on the internet while I was verifying the spelling.

          My knowledge of the Heaviside layer is due strictly to physics, and playing around with AM broadcasts after dark.

        henrybowman in reply to CommoChief. | June 28, 2022 at 3:39 pm

        We’re all bozos on this interbus.

    WestRock in reply to rhhardin. | June 28, 2022 at 6:25 am

    I’d guess W8L** or KI4T**. I’d be surprised if you weren’t an Extra given that fine answer.

    73

    DSHornet in reply to rhhardin. | June 28, 2022 at 9:09 am

    I recall the early years when I would turn on my six tube table model and listen to foreign language shortwave stations in the wee hours. At twelve, I was fascinated to hear KMOX and WLS in my bed room in Alabama. Little things like that fed an interest in science which has never died.
    .

      CommoChief in reply to DSHornet. | June 28, 2022 at 10:13 am

      I had ‘snoopy’ am radio when I was maybe 5 and was turning the dial one night and got reception from a Japanese language station. This was 1975 in Trussville, so it was hella far away. I was hooked then.

Yes, that global warming is so powerful that it is changing the Sun, too. I don’t worry about global warming. One good burp from the Sun and we’re all dead. A couple people might have eight minutes of warning. And here on Earth, one really good volcanic burp and we’ll be praying for global warming.

JackinSilverSpring | June 27, 2022 at 8:35 pm

Must be gorbul warming. 😁😁😁

More Roe v. Wade fallout.

Do NOT forget that NASA is also a government agency, and all that implies.

E Howard Hunt | June 28, 2022 at 8:49 am

No worries- Nancy Pelosi is convening the country’s leading dermatologists to address this problem.

There are cheap Faraday blankets on sale at Amazon ~ $15.
I really don’t want to loose my backups.

The Gulf South has been experiencing very seasonally high temperatures. I guess the increased solar activity is to blame.

On a separate note: if you live in a blue coastal city, ask your politicians that believe in sea level rise why your property taxes do not take that into account over their useful life?

If the GPS system is affected we might wish we still had the inertial reference systems that aircraft used to find themselves. I worked on F-111 integrated avionics in the seventies and even back then they had an INS that was extremely accurate. For redundancy and backup, the FB-111 had an astrotracker. The inertial nav systems were improved further with an upgrade in the eighties that traded spinning mass gyroscopes with ring laser gyros. I have no idea what military aircraft use now but they must be technological marvels.

With everything now so integrated, we may long for the good old days when standalone equipment worked so well. But then we “fixed” it.
.

A minor solar flare this spring took out 10-15% of Elon Musk’s generation 1 SpaceX network.

It is insane that these networks are not reported as insured against catastrophic failure, let alone the liabilities they can cause.

It is more insane that the launching of these extremely dense, low orbit satellite networks is accelerating.

What happens when a massive solar storm hits (think the Carrington event)?

It is way past time to hit the pause button and to (1) conduct serious tests and prove that the engineering and insurance liabilities have been worked out, and (2) make sure that physically diverse terrestrial wireline networks remain in place for when the satellite and wireless systems fail.

See: https://www.thebalancegroup.net/uploads/7/0/4/2/7042138/attachment_2_balance_group_notice_of_appeal.pdf

See also:

Solar Storm Destroys 40 New SpaceX Satellites in Orbit
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/09/science/spacex-satellites-storm.html?referringSource=articleShare

    CommoChief in reply to FreeBop. | June 28, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    The upside is the damn things are cheap and designed to be replaced. Once he builds out all these low earth orbit sats then true broadband competition is arriving for rural America.

A minor solar flare this spring took out 10-15% of Elon Musk’s generation 1 SpaceX network.

It is insane that these networks are not reported as insured against catastrophic failure, let alone the liabilities they can cause.

It is more insane that the launching of these extremely dense, low orbit satellite networks is accelerating.

What happens when a massive solar storm hits (think the Carrington event)?

It is way past time to hit the pause button and to (1) conduct serious tests and prove that the engineering and insurance liabilities have been worked out, and (2) make sure that physically diverse terrestrial wireline networks remain in place for when the satellite and wireless systems fail.

I’m kinda enjoying all the nerd talk. It reminds me a little of I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

The sun rotates. How can it “point directly” at Earth if it’s spinning?