Sun storm to hit with ‘force of 100m bombs’

News.com.au reports: “After 10 years of comparative slumber, the sun is waking up – and it’s got astronomers on full alert.

…Several US media outlets reported that NASA was warning the massive flare that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier was just a precursor to a massive solar storm building that had the potential to wipe out the entire planet’s power grid.

NASA has since rebutted those reports, saying it could come ‘100 years away or just 100 days’, but an Australian astronomer says the space community is betting on the sooner scenario rather than the latter.

Despite its rebuttal, NASA’s been watching out for this storm since 2006 and reports from the US this week claim the storms could hit on that most Hollywood of disaster dates – 2012.

Similar storms back in 1859 and 1921 caused worldwide chaos, wiping out telegraph wires on a massive scale.

The 2012 storm has the potential to be even more disruptive.

‘The general consensus among general astronomers (and certainly solar astronomers) is that this coming Solar maximum (2012 but possibly later into 2013) will be the most violent in 100 years,’ astronomy lecturer and columnist Dave Reneke said.

‘A bold statement and one taken seriously by those it will affect most, namely airline companies, communications companies and anyone working with modern GPS systems.

‘They can even trip circuit breakers and knock out orbiting satellites, as has already been done this year.’

Regardless, the point astronomers are making is it doesn’t matter if the next Solar Max isn’t the worst in history, or even as bad as the 1859 storms.

It’s the fact that there hasn’t been one since the mid-80s. Commodore had just launched the Amiga and the only digital storm making the news was Tetris.

No one really knows what effect the 2012-2013 Solar Max will have on today’s digital-reliant society.

Dr Richard Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics division, told Mr Reneke the super storm would hit like ‘a bolt of lightning’, causing catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken…” (The solar sun storm is predicted by NASA for 2012 – the Mayan calendar date for the greatest calamity ever – Luke 21:25, 26. See also the next report.)

NASA hopes to send a craft into the Sun’s atmosphere

BBC News reports: “NASA is aiming to get closer to the Sun than ever before, with plans to plunge a car-sized unmanned spacecraft into the star’s outer atmosphere.

Scientists hope to launch the Solar Probe Plus (SPP) sometime before 2018.

Before it is destroyed by the sizzling temperatures exceeding 1,400C (2,550F), the craft will have to obtain valuable data about our parent star.

The solar probe project is expected to cost in the region of about $180m (£120m).

To withstand the temperatures and the radiation, the instruments will be protected by a huge carbon-composite heat shield that still needs to be built.

Researchers say that the Sun is one of the few places people have not yet sent a spacecraft.

‘Trying to understand how the Sun influences the Earth is quite a big thing these days,’ Richard Harrison, a solar physicist from the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, told BBC News.

‘The one thing we’ve never done is actually go there. You think of a spacecraft flying past Mars or Venus, but with the Sun, it is a little bit different.

‘[But we are capable of sending] spacecraft near the Sun and that’s the plan for the next generation of spacecraft.’…”