Radiation storm set to hit Earth this week. Here's what to expect

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By James Kay

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The weather has been pretty wild lately, and now we've been told to expect a radiation storm next week!

It seems like we've experienced every possible weather scenario in the last week, and it isn't slowing down.

From sunbathing in the glorious sunshine to battling storms - and then seeing the Northern Lights in our own backyards? It's been wild.

Well, something else is about to happen that could impact our lives...

Many people across the world were able to see the Aurora Borealis. Credit: Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld/Getty

Solar radiation storms, occurring far beyond our view in space, can wreak havoc on infrastructure, disrupt power grids, and even disable satellites.

Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have issued warnings, indicating a 60 percent likelihood of a radiation storm hitting Earth between May 14 and May 15.

The Space Weather Prediction Center, a branch of the US government agency NOAA, also forecasts continued geomagnetic storms, responsible for the recent stunning displays of the aurora borealis.

While radiation storms pose no direct risk to humans, astronauts are not as fortunate.

NOAA explains that these storms occur when "a large-scale magnetic eruption, often causing a coronal mass ejection and associated solar flare, accelerates charged particles in the solar atmosphere to very high velocities."

The storm is nothing to worry about. Credit: ARTUR PLAWGO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

The Sun releases streams of electromagnetic radiation containing large quantities of charged particles. Due to magnetic activity on the Sun's surface, these particles travel faster and in greater numbers.

Fortunately, Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere shield us from these particles. But for astronauts, especially those outside spacecraft, the risk of radiation hazards is heightened.

For those of us on Earth, technological and travel disruptions may be the most noticeable impacts.

Space Weather Live clarifies: "One effect that we can experience on Earth during strong solar radiation storms is an increased risk of people on transpolar flights receiving a higher dose of radiation than normal. Transpolar flights sometimes have to be rerouted or canceled because of these radiation storms."

Additionally, satellites in space are vulnerable, with protons degrading solar panel efficiency, causing malfunctions in onboard electronic circuitry, and creating noise in star-tracking systems.

Astronauts are at higher risk. Credit: Gianluca Mezzina / 500px/Getty

Basically, be prepared for potential difficulties in communications, power grids, and satellite operations if the radiation storm strikes with force.

Things have certainly been getting a bit weird lately, but if it brings beauty like the Northern Lights, then there are positives!

Featured image credit: ARTUR PLAWGO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

Radiation storm set to hit Earth this week. Here's what to expect

vt-author-image

By James Kay

Article saved!Article saved!

The weather has been pretty wild lately, and now we've been told to expect a radiation storm next week!

It seems like we've experienced every possible weather scenario in the last week, and it isn't slowing down.

From sunbathing in the glorious sunshine to battling storms - and then seeing the Northern Lights in our own backyards? It's been wild.

Well, something else is about to happen that could impact our lives...

Many people across the world were able to see the Aurora Borealis. Credit: Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld/Getty

Solar radiation storms, occurring far beyond our view in space, can wreak havoc on infrastructure, disrupt power grids, and even disable satellites.

Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have issued warnings, indicating a 60 percent likelihood of a radiation storm hitting Earth between May 14 and May 15.

The Space Weather Prediction Center, a branch of the US government agency NOAA, also forecasts continued geomagnetic storms, responsible for the recent stunning displays of the aurora borealis.

While radiation storms pose no direct risk to humans, astronauts are not as fortunate.

NOAA explains that these storms occur when "a large-scale magnetic eruption, often causing a coronal mass ejection and associated solar flare, accelerates charged particles in the solar atmosphere to very high velocities."

The storm is nothing to worry about. Credit: ARTUR PLAWGO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

The Sun releases streams of electromagnetic radiation containing large quantities of charged particles. Due to magnetic activity on the Sun's surface, these particles travel faster and in greater numbers.

Fortunately, Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere shield us from these particles. But for astronauts, especially those outside spacecraft, the risk of radiation hazards is heightened.

For those of us on Earth, technological and travel disruptions may be the most noticeable impacts.

Space Weather Live clarifies: "One effect that we can experience on Earth during strong solar radiation storms is an increased risk of people on transpolar flights receiving a higher dose of radiation than normal. Transpolar flights sometimes have to be rerouted or canceled because of these radiation storms."

Additionally, satellites in space are vulnerable, with protons degrading solar panel efficiency, causing malfunctions in onboard electronic circuitry, and creating noise in star-tracking systems.

Astronauts are at higher risk. Credit: Gianluca Mezzina / 500px/Getty

Basically, be prepared for potential difficulties in communications, power grids, and satellite operations if the radiation storm strikes with force.

Things have certainly been getting a bit weird lately, but if it brings beauty like the Northern Lights, then there are positives!

Featured image credit: ARTUR PLAWGO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty