A solar storm that is due to happen in 2017 could knock out electricity grids in several countries. Solar storms hit the earth every hundred years. It is something that almost caused a WW3 back in 1967.
What Is Solar Storm?
Contrary to the Earth’s surface, the sun is made up of plasma, which creates electric charges on its crust, known as Photosphere. Sometimes the radiation on the sun builds up to a point where it gets released in form of a solar storm. A typical solar storm, made up of radiation, ions and plasma gets absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere before reaching its surface.
Earth’s magnetic field scrambles the solar storm. Air molecules in the atmosphere start to glow after absorbing the energy particles from the storm. This phenomenon is known by many names like Northern and Southern lights or Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, reported SciShow Space.
The Almost WW3 Caused By Solar Storms
However, back in 1967, the earth got hit by more radiation than its atmosphere could absorb and some of it reached the surface. It was a time when cold war was going on between the Soviet Union and America. The U.S. had set up radar stations along Alaska, Greenland and the U.K.
These stations sent radio signals up into the atmosphere capable of determining if any incoming missiles are in sight. These stations were supposed to report back immediately if any missile from the Soviet Union was seen approaching. The U.S. air force would then retaliate within minutes, inevitably sparking off World War 3.
The solar storm that took place on May 23, 1967 was powerful enough to jam the radio signals of the stations. This was initially misconstrued as an act of war by the radar stations. However, after corresponding with the solar forecasters at NORAD, they decided to wait out the solar storm to see if there was indeed any impending attack or not. After the solar storm passed, the signals cleared and hence a potential WW3 was averted.
A similar solar is headed for the planet this year, which could spell disaster for the world economy. It is being estimated that it would cost the U.S. $41.5 billion per day to recover from blackouts. A further $7 billion would incur in trade loss. Every device that runs on electricity would no longer be usable. Study shows that the manufacturing sector of the United States would be the worst hit of the lot, reported Gizmodo.