The Sun Is Pissed Off

Run for your lives!

Massive solar flare hits Earth tonight

The biggest solar flare in four years has blasted out from the sun, and is expected to reach Earth late tonight.

The flare, or coronal mass ejection (CME), was emitted on Monday at 8:56pm EST. It’s been categorized as a Class X2.2 flare, the most severe type. It follows one Class M – medium-sized – flare the day before, and several low-grade Class C flares over the preceding week.

The coronal mass ejection associated with the flare is currently traveling about 900 Km/second and is expected to reach Earth’s orbit tonight at about 10pm EST. It’s the biggest flare yet in the current solar cycle.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 193 Angstroms – although the SDO imager was for a moment overwhelmed by the bright flash.

It emanated from Active Region 1158, in the southern hemisphere; this has in the past trailed behind the north in activity but now leads in big flares.

A flare of this size could have noticeable effects on Earth when the cloud of charged particles reaches us. It’s possible that radio transmissions and GPS systems could be knocked out, and power grids could be affected.

See also:
Sun Erupts with Enormous X2 Solar Flare
Solar flare 2011: How a dazzling display can wreak electrical havoc
Here comes the sun: Solar flares make way to Earth
Biggest Solar Flares in 4 Years Heading Toward Earth
Scientists await arrival of solar flares
Planet awaits largest solar flare effects today
Giant Solar Blast Headed for Earth
Solar flares due to hit Earth
Sun has biggest solar flare of the year
Solar flare could light up night sky
Solar flare could cause Northern Lights over New England
Is Class X flash first warning of 2012 solar storm?

So, if your power goes out or your electronics go haywire, you’ll know why, the Earth is getting a solar spanking. And if a solar flare can disrupt the power grid, it kind of makes you wonder what kind of radiation dose humans are taking.

/in any case, don’t forget to duck

Weakest Link In The Chain

Who’s running the show here, Microsoft?

Cyber Command chief suggests Pentagon networks are vulnerable

In his first hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, new US Cyber Command head Gen. Keith Alexander offered a troubling window into the threats that Pentagon networks face at the hands of terrorist and criminal syndicates, foreign intelligence organizations, and “hacktivists” intent on infiltrating power grids and financial networks.

These are threats that could hamper the US war effort in Afghanistan. Though the command recently deployed an “expeditionary cybersupport” unit to help to defend US networks in Afghanistan, Alexander on Thursday told the committee: “We’re not where we need to be” in ensuring the security of US military networks there.

In the past, cyberattackers have been able to steal key information from the US troops who rely on sophisticated equipment, including data on convoy supply routes, according to senior US officials.

Every hour, there are some 250,000 attempted attacks on Defense Department networks worldwide, Alexander told the committee. Throughout the Department of Defense, there are more than 15,000 different computer networks, including 7 million computers on some 4,000 military installations, committee chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D) of Missouri pointed out.

See also:
Cybercom Chief Details Cyberspace Defense
Pentagon Faces Massive Cyber Threats
Military’s cyber defense limited in protection of US, top general says
Gaps in authority hamper military against cyber-attacks
Pentagon: Military networks vulnerable
Cyber Command chief proposes secure network for government, key industries
US reviewing ways to fight cyber attacks: general
Cyberwar Chief Calls for Secure Computer Network
An army of tech-savvy warriors has been fighting its battles in cyberspace
NSA chief envisions ‘secure zone’ on Internet to guard against attacks
White House reviews nation’s cybersecurity

Well, obviously, for starters, you could solve most of these problems by severing all connections between critical defense and infrastructure networks and the public internet. I’m pretty sure they already know that, so I’m not sure why this basic step has yet to be completed.

/today’s U.S. warfighters are so dependent on electronics that I sometimes wonder what would happen if, say an EMP attack disabled all their electronic gear, are they even trained to fight the old fashioned way anymore or would they be helpless?

The Sun Is Angry

Don’t forget to duck.

Huge blasts of sun’s plasma hurtling toward Earth

A huge mass of magnetically charged material ejected from the sun is racing across space toward our planet, where it is expected to arrive on Tuesday. When it strikes the Earth’s magnetic field, it could produce spectacular auroras.

A blast of violent space weather could hit the Earth tomorrow following two massive explosions on the Sun. NASA astronomers witnessed a huge flare above a giant sunspot the size of our planet and linked to an even larger eruption across the surface of Sun.

Experts estimate a wave of supercharged gas called plasma will reach us this Tuesday when it will buffet the natural magnetic shield protecting Earth. It could trigger spectacular displays of the aurora or northern and southern lights.

The solar outbursts on Sunday August 1 were recorded by several satellites including NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory which watched its shockwave rippling outwards. The flare over the sunspot was swiftly followed by an eruption 250,000 miles (400,000 km) away in a feature called a filament.

UK solar expert Dr Lucie Green, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, in Surrey, followed the flare-ups using Japan’s orbiting Hinode telescope.

She said last night: “What wonderful fireworks the Sun has been producing! This was a very rare event – not one, but two almost simultaneous eruptions from different locations on the sun were launched toward the Earth.

“These eruptions occur when immense magnetic structures in the solar atmosphere lose their stability and can no longer be held down by the sun’s huge gravitational pull. Just like a coiled spring suddenly being released, they erupt into space.

“It looks like the first eruption was so large that it changed the magnetic fields throughout half the Sun’s visible atmosphere and provided the right conditions for the second eruption. Both eruptions could be Earth-directed but may be travelling at different speeds. This means we have a very good chance of seeing major and prolonged effects, such as the northern lights at low latitudes.”

. . .

Scientists have warned that a really big solar eruption, like the Carrington Event witnessed from Surrey in 1859, could destroy satellites and wreck power and around the globe if it happened today.

Such an event would be the biggest disaster ever to hit mankind, preventing the production of essential supplies including food, water and medicines. Other eruptions have been observed directed towards us but thankfully less severe.

See also:
Coronal Mass Ejection Headed for Earth
Here comes the sun storm
Large solar storm headed our way
Solar plasma aurora storm to hit Earth tomorrow!
Solar Tsunami to Strike Earth Tonight
Solar light show expected tonight
Northern lights may shine in local skies
Solar blast may fire up Northern Lights
Northern lights could be visible from UK as Sun’s ‘solar tsunami’ sweeps towards Earth
Sun storms may bring northern lights farther south
Coronal Mass Ejection on Sun, Effects Can Be Seen in New England

So, enjoy the light show if it’s visible where you’re at and let’s hope we don’t suffer any fried satellites.

/eventually, the sun will destroy life on Earth and the Earth itself, but apparently not today

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