The US Government has devised a plan to prepare for a catastrophic solar flare event in the near future.
A massive solar flare event could end life as we know it, disabling satellites and taking out the power grid for many months.
The last powerful geomagnetic solar storm which hit the earth was in 1859 which caused telegraph lines to explode, setting fire to some telegraph offices, and power to fail across Europe and North America.
A space weather action plan and strategy have now been drawn up which will focus on preparing the United States for the disaster.
The six-step plan includes establishing a benchmark to accurately measure the threat of events, such as the Richter magnitude scale used for earthquakes and focus on improving forecasting technologies.
One of the big dangers of space weather is that forecasters currently have just 15 to 60 minutes warning time before an extreme event.
The plan would allow for new satellites in space and new technologies on the ground to give a more adequate warning of the disaster.
A solar flare is a sudden flash of brightness observed near the Sun’s surface. It involves a very broad spectrum of emissions, requiring an energy release of up to 6 × 1025 joules of energy (roughly the equivalent of 160,000,000,000 megatons of TNT, over 25,000 times more energy than released from the impact of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 with Jupiter). Flares are often, but not always, accompanied by a spectacular coronal mass ejection. The flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms through the corona of the sun into space. These clouds typically reach Earth a day or two after the event. The term is also used to refer to similar phenomena in other stars, where the term stellar flare applies.