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NASA can detect a severe solar storm half an hour before it occurs

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NASA will be able to predict a potentially devastating solar storm half an hour in advance. The American space agency has developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that can do this on the basis of satellite data and signals recorded on Earth. This is especially important now that our star is approaching “solar maximum”.

The sun is constantly ejecting matter in the form of solar wind – streams of charged plasma that the Earth’s magnetic field protects us from. Sometimes, however, there are more violent mass ejections, called solar flares. Once they reach our planet, they can cause storms solar – geomagnetic disturbances having a devastating impact on technological infrastructure.

Scientists point out that a storm caused by a powerful flare could cut electricity and disrupt communications networks for hours, with dire consequences.

Artificial intelligence and the sun

A team of researchers from NASA, the United States Geological Agency (USGS) and the United States Department of Energy (DOE) created the DAGGER model based on artificial intelligence. It can predict the strength and location of magnetic disturbances based on satellite data from solar activity monitoring systems.

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As reported by NASA, the model can predict solar storms up to 30 minutes before they occur in Earth’s atmosphere. Forecasts are created in less than a second and updated every minute. DAGGER was tested on geomagnetic storm data from August 2011 and March 2015. The results of the model were consistent with what was observed in reality at the time.

‘Thanks to artificial intelligence, we can predict solar storms quickly and accurately and make decisions instantly,’ explained Vishal Upendran of the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in India, co-author of the model. “In this way, we can minimize or even prevent the damage to society,” he added.

Solar flare – pic. illustrativeNASA/SDO

In preparation for explosions

The researchers stressed that this is the best time to develop such a model, as the risk of strong geomagnetic storms increases. Our star is approaching “solar maximum”, the peak of its 11-year activity cycle. It is due to take place in 2025.

Upendran added that the DAGGER source code could be used by power grid operators, telecommunications companies and satellite operators. The warnings can give them time to take measures to protect infrastructure from the storm, such as temporarily shutting down sensitive systems or moving satellites to other orbits to minimize damage.

The deadliest storm in history

The most devastating magnetic storm in history there was the so-called Carrington event of 1859. It caused fires at telegraph stations and prevented the sending of messages, and related to it northern lights even in the Caribbean.

Had the Carrington event occurred today, it would have even more severe impacts, such as power outages and communication disruptions. Such technological chaos could cripple economies and threaten the safety and lives of people around the world.

Main photo source: NASA/SDO

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