Solar Eruption Isn’t Really Bad for Satellites But Looks Really Cool

While we were researching some of our products online, we came across a fabulous article from The Atlantic about the sun’s solar eruption last week. On August 31 NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a video of a filament eruption (also known as a coronal mass ejection -CME).

The massive explosion was outside of Earth’s direct path, according to NASA, but enough of the solar plasma connected with Earth’s atmosphere to cause some really awesome aurora lightshows in the Northern Hemisphere.

We thought we’d blog about this event for a couple reasons:

  1. Space is cool and we like it.
  2. Newscom had some beautiful pictures from NASA of the CME along with some of the pictures of the aurora.
  3. We work with satellites (in space) so the general goings on with the sun interest us.

Ok, the last one was a stretch.

Sometimes the sun can interfere with satellites, but its a pretty rare occurrence and technology is getting better both so that the satellites can better withstand whatever the sun throws at them, and we also know how to better predict solar storms and what’s going on with the sun at any given point. For example, we know that solar event peak about every 12 years and the next peak is expected to happen in 2013. As a result, we’re seeing an uptick in the amount of solar activity this year, like this recent solar eruption and another massive CME that hit Earth in January and provided an awesome lightshow then too.

In the satellite business we worry about these things because the charged particles that are emitted during these solar storms can damage satellites – they can also mess with terrestrial power grids and cause radio interference. But, like I said before, technological advances have made it so damage is rare and we don’t really need to worry.

The sun also interferes with satellites twice a year when we have what’s called “sun outages”. They typically happen around the Spring and Fall equinoxes when the sun basically lines up in a straight line with the receiver and the satellite and makes it really hard for the receiver to separate out the satellite signal from the sun’s interference. We have a great blog we wrote about it last year if you’re interested in learning more about it.

Mainstream Data is in the business of moving media and we offer a lot of web-based hosting and transfer solutions along with satellite services to help our customers get their information to the right places. We have uplinkS with the AMC 15 and AMC 16 satellites so we can transmit data to all of the US (including Hawaii and Alaska) and Canada. We work through a Linkstar headend network hub to manage our 2-way VSAT and broadcast satellite services.

We’re pretty far along in the satellite business, so if you have questions, feel free to get in touch with us.

PS We really do have some great space pictures on Newscom (just search Solar Dynamics Observatory, those are cool). Check out this pic from the recent solar eruption. It’s cool, right?

solar eruptions

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) images of filament on the Sun are shown here in various wavelengths of light on August 31, 2012. Starting from the upper left and going clockwise they represent light in the: 335, 171, 304 and 131 Angstrom wavelengths. Since each wavelength of light generally corresponds to solar material at a particular temperature, scientists can compare images like this to observe how the material moves during an eruption. HANDOUT/Reuters/Newscom. Find it on Newscom.com: rtrlfive475804

Here’s a couple more links to some of our other favorite space-related posts (ok, it’s almost all of our space-related posts, but I just like them all so much):

Photo Credit: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) images of filament on the Sun are shown here in various wavelengths of light on August 31, 2012. Starting from the upper left and going clockwise they represent light in the: 335, 171, 304 and 131 Angstrom wavelengths. Since each wavelength of light generally corresponds to solar material at a particular temperature, scientists can compare images like this to observe how the material moves during an eruption. HANDOUT/Reuters/Newscom. Find it on Newscom.com: rtrlfive475804