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Just a Solar Storm in a Teacup?


Article by: robert
Date: 23 Feb 2011

pocketgpsworld.comWired Science reports last week's solar storm as "A Dud", but the predictions for the coming months could be worrying for GPS users.

How we are affected depends on the Earth's alignment and 1,700 solar storms are expected in the coming months.

Solar storms are hardly anything new, the sun goes through cycles and approximately every 11 years can produce solar storms that may have an impact on Earth such as producing auroras in more southern areas.

The problem with this cycle is that we have all learned to be very dependant on GPS for a whole multitude of things (not just car navigation) and the boffins are predicting that a new series of solar storms could have an impact on satellites.

It's possible that ultraviolet and X-ray radiation could actually damage GPS satellites, but the powers that be that monitor such things have an action plan to shut down some satellites preemptively.

The media is predicting everything from power cuts for months to financial institution meltdowns, but could this just be another millennium bug storm in a teacup?
Comments
Posted by BigPerk on Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:14 pm Reply with quote

Isn't it strange how 'successfu' preventive action gets bad publicity! If commerce and industry HAD collapsed worldwide, I guess there would have been a certain amount of criticism about 'not being prepared for the obvious risks'. So a tremendous amount of work WAS done - but after waiting for at least some catastrophe to happen, which could have been leaped on as 'typical incompetence of the preventative action taken', was the absence of disaster taken as a 'success'? Of course not, instead the media could claim it was all a total waste of vast amounts of time and money and was obviously totally unnecessary anyway! Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes

No doubt exactly the same will happen here with the solar flares. After all, if nothing happens, who CAN prove whether any preventive action taken was good foresight or bad judgement? But you sell more papers if you can cite enormous waste and exploitation in generating commercial revenues - and after all, the media isn't in the business of having to prove anything it says is true, is it? Cool

(Well, I enjoyed that little outburst anyway Razz )


David
(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)

 
Posted by Guivre46 on Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:15 pm Reply with quote

GPS satellites have been operating for several years, and there have been coronal mass ejections in that time, and I'm not aware of significant problems? The variables seem to be the age of the satellites and possible breakdown of shielding, and the possibility of a super cme at some point - I'm not aware that anything super is looming?


Mike R [aka Wyvern46]
Go 530T - unsupported
Go550 Live [not renewed]
Kia In-dash Tomtom

 
Posted by mccririck on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:57 pm Reply with quote

Guivre46 Wrote:
GPS satellites have been operating for several years, and there have been coronal mass ejections in that time, and I'm not aware of significant problems? The variables seem to be the age of the satellites and possible breakdown of shielding, and the possibility of a super cme at some point - I'm not aware that anything super is looming?


Well solar activity is reaching a high point, that is they main point.


 
Posted by lbendlin on Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:30 am Reply with quote

there were some outages on individual GPS satellites during prior solar storms, but only one or two birds, and that won't impact the network function much.


Lutz

Report Map Errors here:
TomTom/TeleAtlas NAVTEQ

 
Posted by Guivre46 on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:07 am Reply with quote

mccririck Wrote:
Well solar activity is reaching a high point, that is they main point.


I think they are referring to frequency of ejections not the quantity of any one. I'm an amateur astronomer, but no expert, we would need to be concerned about any massive sunspot or group of sunspots. I don't think this solar maximum presents anything unusual? That being said the Sun is still a bit of a mystery.

Edit: can't spell quantity [or need]


Mike R [aka Wyvern46]
Go 530T - unsupported
Go550 Live [not renewed]
Kia In-dash Tomtom

 
Posted by BigPerk on Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:17 am Reply with quote

I'm quite surprised - the article may have a point! Just checked the RAS site and it seems that this maximum may be one of the weaker ones, so maybe not too much of a problem, unless anything unexpected happens.

(OTT - and I found out that the RAS also has a bit of Newton's apple tree as well! May give them a visit when I'm next up in town).


David
(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)

 
Posted by Pjsmiffy1976 on Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:48 pm Reply with quote

There are numerous backups and in the part of space where the GPS saterlights are has a high level of back ground solar radation.
The loss of a few saterlites could posably decrees the acuracy of the system or increase boot time. This is at worst a minor inconveniance and newer systems often use last known position or phone signal to get a better fix. I think that the most most of us will notice is a little interferance on mobile sigal

Prehaps a few days with out gps would be good for us as my kids can't comprehend navigating without it.


 
Posted by DennisN on Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:51 pm Reply with quote

I think I read somewhere last week that some woman has filed a claim for ownership of the sun and intends to charge everybody for their sun tans and mere living from the light.

If my TomTom gets lost, I'll bloody well sue her!!!


Dennis

Where there's a will .... there's a wake.

 
Posted by Pjsmiffy1976 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:46 pm Reply with quote

DennisN Wrote:
I think I read somewhere last week that some woman has filed a claim for ownership of the sun and intends to charge everybody for their sun tans and mere living from the light.


Ohh can we sue for skin cancer?
Sun burn?
Sun blindness?
Or the inconvenience of sun sneezing?


 
Posted by lbendlin on Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:16 pm Reply with quote

a big +1 for the sun sneezing. That's an environmental hazard.


Lutz

Report Map Errors here:
TomTom/TeleAtlas NAVTEQ

 
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