Onboard the International Space Station, astronauts took shelter in the hardened Zvezda service module to protect themselves from high energy particles. Almost every flight over Earth’s poles detoured to lower latitudes to avoid radiation, costing as much as $100,000 per flight. Many Earth-orbiting satellites experienced data outages, reboots and even unwanted thruster firings. Some operators simply gave up and turned their instruments off. Solar Cycle 23 was winding down, and space weather forecasters were talking about how quiet things would soon become. Suddenly, the sun unleashed two of the strongest solar flares of the Space Age–an X17 flare on Oct. 28 followed by an X10 on Oct 29, 2003.
- Some satellites in low-Earth orbit found themselves off course by one to tens of kilometers.
- The Halloween storms pumped an extra 3 Terrawatts of power into Earth’s upper atmosphere.
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The sun’s strengthening and increasingly tangled magnetic field repels cosmic rays from deep space. In addition, solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays, causing sharp reductions called “Forbush Decreases.” The two effects blend together to bring daily radiation levels down. Most satellite operators today have never experienced anything like the Halloween storms. That’s a problem because the number of objects they need to track has sharply increased. Since 2003, the population of active satellites has ballooned to more than 7,000, with an additional 20,000+ pieces of debris larger than 10 cm.
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Cosmic rays are a surprisingly “down to Earth” form of space weather. They can alter the chemistry of the atmosphere, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. A number of controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) go even further, linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. When looking for casinos to play online when the weather is bad, you can try casino online trucchi for Italian games.
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The Halloween storms pumped an extra 3 Terrawatts of power into Earth’s upper atmosphere. Geomagnetic heating puffed up the atmosphere, sharply increasing aerodynamic drag on satellites. Some satellites in low-Earth orbit found themselves off course by one to tens of kilometers. Save your favorite articles to read offline, sync your reading lists across devices and customize your reading experience with the official Wikipedia app.