Solar storms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and magnetic field are triggered by powerful blasts of energy from the Sun. If a solar storm is powerful enough, it can wipe out entire satellite networks, disrupt power grids and even turn night into day. When a solar storm washed over the Earth in 1859 – the so-called Carrington Event – Northern Lights were seen as far out as the Caribbean. And the bad News is the Earth is woefully unprepared to suffer the impact of another such event, which could strike without warning.
If another Carrington-type event struck today, experts estimate the solar storm could cost the Earth up to £2.36trillion ($3trillion) in damage.
Because of this threat, the micronation Asgardia has committed its scientists towards safeguarding our planet from harmful solar activity.
Lena de Winne, Minister of Information and Communications for Asgardia, said: “They pose a serious threat to Earth even without the technological infrastructure of the modern age.
“The proliferation of highly sensitive and space-dependent electronic grids, signals and networks makes the task of defending the planet from the unpredictable effects of the Sun more urgent than ever.
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“Asgardia is committed, as a community of citizens of more than 200 countries, to investing in public in scientific affairs, to researching and preparing appropriate defence mechanisms to tackle superstorms and caring equally about all humanity as well as its citizens.”
Asgardia, or the Space Kingdom of Asgardia, is a micronation formed in 2016 off the back of a satellite launch.
The Asgardians boast their own constitution, Parliament and intend to build free settlements in outer space, primarily on the Moon.
But before the fledgeling space nation can achieve its lofty goals, Asgardian scientists have warned Earth’s safety has to be guaranteed first.
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In March 1989, a powerful solar storm hit the Earth and caused a nine-hour-long blackout of the Quebec hydropower electric grid in Canada.
Then in 2012, the Earth just narrowly missed being hit by another monstrous solar storm.
US space agency NASA at the time said the storm was triggered by an “unusually large and strong coronal mass ejection” or CME, which is a blast of charged plasma from the Sun.
According to NASA, the “solar superstorm” was the most powerful storm witnessed in almost 150 years.
Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado said: “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did.
“If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.”
And if the solar storm had hit the Earth, the space expert said the planet would have been left “picking up the pieces”.
Asgardia believes international space law needs to be updated and amended to better adapt to future cataclysms from space.