Solar storms have heated the thermosphere; Satellites are now at risk

Earth is still waiting for the solar wind, which is expected to hit the solar wind later today on June 3 and trigger a small solar storm, and a related development has astronomers worried. According to studies, as a result of several solar storms hitting Earth in 2023, the thermosphere, a part of the upper atmosphere, has been pushed up and become hotter. As these solar storms transfer large amounts of energy, the thermosphere moves upward and warms. Now, the wind reaches satellites in low Earth orbit, causing them trouble.

Wind reaching them means that wind currents, now known as drag, can affect the motion of satellites, especially small ones like the Starlink satellites. The heated air is more likely to be dragged and push the satellites around to move them up to 10 kilometers from their designated positions. This will cause the satellites to collide with each other and damage the instruments.

Solar storms will increase the risk to satellites in 2023

„Blame the Sun. Increased solar activity warms the upper atmosphere. The extra heat has no effect on the weather or climate on Earth’s surface, but it’s a big deal for satellites in low Earth orbit,” said NASA Langley’s Martin Milinchak, according to SpaceWeather.com. Report.

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Mlynczak specializes in the SABER instrument on NASA’s TIMED satellite, which he has been using for 20 years. This particular satellite is used to monitor infrared emission from the thermosphere, which has been recorded at a 20-year high.

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„There have been five significant geomagnetic storms in the calendar year 2023, resulting in significant increases in the amount of infrared radiation (heat) in the Earth’s thermosphere. They peaked on January 15, February 16, February 27, March 24 and April 24.

With the peak of the solar cycle just around the corner, solar storms are expected that can create conditions for Earth’s low-orbiting satellites.

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