Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 06 August 2023

Internet Apocalypse

Source: By The Economic Times

People on Earth can be left without the internet for several months as a new possibility of internet apocalypse has emerged due to a solar storm. Recently, for the first time, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP) completed a groundbreaking mission to travel through the solar winds in space. The goal of the mission was to prevent the charged particles from hindering the internet signals on Earth.

With first such research being conducted in 2021, scientists have long warned of the possibility of a solar storm impacting the planet with an “internet apocalypse”. They have also warned that one such event could take place in the next decade and would obstruct the infrastructure that carried the internet providers. PSP was launched five years ago and it took the trajectory close to the sun's surface where the solar wind begins.

What is a solar storm and how can it impact Earth’s internet?

Solar storms are simply the atmospheric impacts felt on earth due to the winds that generate near the sunThe storms are caused due to the solar flares and coronal mass ejections which release a stream of electromagnetic field towards the Earth. In other words, it consists of a stream of charged particles which beam from the outermost atmosphere of the sun, called corona.

NASA has stated that the solar activity appears to be following a cycle of 11 years and at its peak, solar storms could occur multiple times in a day. However, at other times, they can take place less than once a week.

But, these solar storms have the potential to cause geometric storms which can hinder the satellite signalsradio communicationsinternet and even electrical power gridsBack in 2011, a powerful solar storm reportedly disrupted the radio communications in southern regions of China. In 1859auroras were seen across the world due to the solar storm and the phenomenon was named ‘Carrington Event’.

At this time, if a similar power solar storm is generated, it could potentially lead to an ‘internet apocalypse’ resulting in a worldwide blackout which would be significantly damaging to communication across the globe. It can also hinder the supply chain for essential items such as food, water, medicines among several other products.

What is a solar storm?

Solar storms are simply the atmospheric impacts felt on earth due to the winds that generate near the sun. The storms are caused due to the solar flares and coronal mass ejections which release a stream of electromagnetic field towards the Earth. In other words, it consists of a stream of charged particles which beam from the outermost atmosphere of the sun, called corona.

Has Earth ever witnessed solar storms?

Back in 2011, a powerful solar storm reportedly disrupted the radio communications in southern regions of China. In 1859, auroras were seen across the world due to the solar storm and the phenomenon was named ‘Carrington Event’.

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