Solar Megastorm Could Cripple Satellites for a Decade
Satellites not strong enough to withstand sun's explosions, model shows.
If hit by a powerful onslaught of solar energy and particles, Earth's atmosphere would be flooded with high-energy electrons accelerated to nearly the speed of light, according to a new computer model.
This would hinder operations of low-Earth orbiting, or LEO, satellites. The satellites wouldn't immediately start falling out of the sky following a megastorm, but they would malfunction much faster than previous models suggested.
"What we concluded based on our calculations is that a very strong storm would decrease the lifetime of a typical LEO satellite by a factor of ten," said study leader Yuri Shprits, a geophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Though the results are still preliminary, Shprits predicts that a majority of the