Solar Protection

StarDate logo
Solar Protection

Hurricanes and other big storms can cause widespread damage that can take days or weeks to clean up. So can big space weather storms. They can knock out satellites, disrupt radio transmissions, and cause power blackouts. Especially big storms have the potential to knock out power grids for weeks or months. So scientists and power operators are looking for ways to minimize the damage.

Space weather is powered by storms on the Sun. Big explosions send particles and energy racing out into the solar system. Earth’s magnetic field funnels some of the particles toward the surface. They can create powerful currents in electrical equipment and even in the ground. That can trigger blackouts. At their worst, they might fry transformers and other gear, completely wrecking power grids.

Scientists in New Zealand recently worked with the national power operator to simulate ways to minimize the impact of a major storm. Their work showed that disconnecting a limited number of key high-power transmission lines reduced the risk of a system-wide failure. It also showed that installing a sort of surge protector on some transformers could provide similar protection.

The Sun is nearing the peak of its current activity cycle. Big outbursts in March, in fact, triggered the highest warning levels in more than six years. Similar warnings could be common in the coming months — as the Sun stirs up powerful space weather.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top