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Monday, January 23, 2012

CME To Reach Earth Tuesday Morning - Northern Flights May Be Rerouted

CME To Reach Earth Tuesday Morning

Northern Flights May Be Rerouted

By Dell Hill

A high-ranking military official tipped me off to this CME almost as soon as it took place, but it was impossible to accurately predict the affects at that very moment, so the news went unreported or only casually reported here.  While the path of travel is toward the Earth, it’s also slightly North in trajectory, thus sparing us major communications interference...or so we believe.

A powerful M9-class solar storm that unleashed a coronal mass ejection toward Earth in the early hours of Jan. 23, 2012 (GMT).CREDIT: NASA/SDO/SOHO

An immense blast of plasma spewed late Sunday night from the sun led to the strongest radiation storm bombarding our planet since 2005, and a rare warning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency -- and even a plan to redirect certain high-flying airplanes.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center -- the nation’s official source of warnings about space weather and its impact on Earth -- issued a watch for a geomagnetic storm expected to hit our planet Tuesday morning after a satellite witnessed an ultraviolet flash from the massive solar eruption, according to
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There is no risk to people on Earth, Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center told

But as a rare precaution, polar flights on Earth are expected to be re-routed, Kathy Sullivan, deputy administrator of NOAA, said today at a Meteorological Society meeting in New Orleans, La., according to

Eruptions on the sun shoot tremendous streams of charged particles away from the star -- in this case directly towards us.
"There is little doubt that the cloud is heading in the general direction of Earth," announced in an alert.  The blast from the immense solar radiation storm let loose with a so called coronal mass ejection (CME) that will hit the atmosphere Tuesday morning, something NASA and NOAA monitor for as it could cause problems for astronauts, communications satellites, and even rocket launches.

“A preliminary inspection of SOHO/STEREO imagery suggests that the CME will deliver a strong glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 24-25 as it sails mostly north of our planet," SpaceWeather’s bulletin read.

It could also affect navigation and the power grid.

The solar flare spat out late Sunday, Jan. 22, at 10:59 p.m. EST was rated an M9-class eruption -- nearly an X-class flare, the most powerful type of solar storm.

NASA spokeswoman Kelly Humphries told the six spaceflyers currently living and working on the orbiting outpost are not in any danger.

"The flight surgeons have reviewed the space weather forecasts for the flare and determined that there are no expected adverse effects or actions required to protect the on-orbit crew," Humphries told in an email.

The flare led to the largest radiation storm of its kind since 2005 -- one still only described as a three on the scale of one to five, Biesecker told AFP.

NOAA measures geomagnetic storms on a five-point scale from 1 to 5.  G1 storms are minor, leading to weak power grid fluctuations and having only minor impact on satellites.  G5 storms are extreme, leading to widespread voltage control problems, damage to transformers, radio outages and satellite problems.

NOAA warned that of geomagnetic storms on Tuesday as well -- another result of the flare. They may be as strong as G3, causing intermittent navigation issues and problems with low-Earth satellites.

The sun's activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle, reported.  Currently, activity in Solar Cycle 24 is expected to ramp up toward a "solar maximum" in 2013.”

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