A NASA mission has successfully sent out a spacecraft in an attempt to stop a potential “internet apocalypse“.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP) successfully travelled through solar wind for the first time, and NASA is hopeful that it can prevent a global broadband blackout.
Scientists have warned that solar storms could halt internet access on Earth for months — or even years — something NASA’s latest mission hopes to avert.
Professor Stuart Bale, the lead author of the study and a University of California at Berkley professor, explained the significance of understanding solar wind and it’s relation to broadband on Earth.
“Winds carry lots of information from the sun to Earth,” Bale said. “So, understanding the mechanism behind the sun’s wind is important for practical reasons on Earth.
“That’s going to affect our ability to understand how the sun releases energy and drives geomagnetic storms – which are a threat to our communication networks.”
If a strong enough geomagnetic storm occurs, internet access on Earth could be disrupted for months, or even years.
Solar wind consists of a continuous stream of charged particles emanating from the sun’s outermost atmosphere, known as the corona.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, with its cutting-edge technology, detected solar wind in incredible detail and discovered vital information that is lost as the wind exits the corona in the form of photons and electrons.
When these winds pick up, they can disrupt, or even cease, all broadband signals on Earth, leaving an increasingly digitalized society offline for an extended period of time.
With millions of jobs and businesses relying on the internet, it’s no surprise that NASA wants to get ahead of the potential “internet apocalypse” as quickly as possible.
Five years ago, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was sent on its initial launch around the Sun to better understand how solar wind works.
A team of U.S. researchers compared the experience to “seeing jets of water emanating from a showerhead through the blast of water hitting you in the face.”
These discoveries fueled the discovery of a phenomenon called “supergranulation flows” in coronal holes, where magnetic fields first appear.
The team suggests that high-speed solar wind originates from these areas.
Typically, these holes do not impact Earth, but, during the sun’s active phase every 11 years, when its magnetic field flips, these holes appear across the sun’s surface, generating bursts of solar wind aimed directly at our planet.
Hopefully, after gaining more insight from the Parker Solar Probe’s continued orbit and research of these solar winds, NASA is able to formulate a plan to protect the Earth from these harmful geomagnetic storms and preserve internet access on Earth.
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