• Question: What havoc can solar flares cause?

    Asked by blatantlyninja to Martin, Rob, Suzanne on 22 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Suzanne McEndoo

      Suzanne McEndoo answered on 22 Mar 2012:

      The biggest threat from solar flares are to our communications (like mucking up our satellites) and breaking the power grid. It’s hard to say how bad the havoc would be, since we haven’t had a bad solar flare since we’ve become so reliant on electricity and long range communications, but I’m guessing a really powerful one could cause Havoc with a capitl H!

      Since we’re moving into the part of the solar cycle with high flare activity, after quite a lull, some astrophysicists are warning there’s a chance of having a bad one in the next decade. How bad is very hard to predict. Probably not the worst case scenario (it rarely is) but might still cause some confusion.

    • Photo: Robert Thompson

      Robert Thompson answered on 22 Mar 2012:

      Yeah, I don’t know a great deal about this, But satellites being knocked out I think is the biggest threat as depending on what satellite it knocks out we could loose navigation or information exchange or sky… or something very vital to the running of our info structure.

    • Photo: Martin Zaltz Austwick

      Martin Zaltz Austwick answered on 22 Mar 2012:

      Solar flares can release massive pulses of radio waves, and anything that can be an antennae can pick up these signals and be damaged. Electronics especially is an issue, especially stuff not on earth where they don’t have the atmosphere to absorb some of the energy.