Part of: Prelims and GS-III Science and technology
Context: Elon Musk’s Starlink has lost dozens of satellites that were caught in a geomagnetic storm a day after they were launched on February 3. Up to 40 of the 49 satellites were impacted, Starlink said, causing them to fall from orbit before they could be commissioned.
About Solar storms
- Solar storms are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface.
- They occur during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere), and can last for a few minutes or hours.
- The solar storm that deorbited the satellites occurred on February 1 and 2, and its powerful trails were observed on February 3.
Effect on Earth
- Not all solar flares reach Earth, but solar flares/storms, that come close can impact space weather in near-Earth space and the upper atmosphere.
- Solar storms can hit operations of space-dependent services like global positioning systems (GPS), radio, and satellite communications.
- Geomagnetic storms interfere with high-frequency radio communications and GPS navigation systems.
- Aircraft flights, power grids, and space exploration programmes are vulnerable.
News Source: IE