Saturday, March 24, 2012

Solar storms gave Earth 'powerful dose' of energy

A recent spate of furious eruptions on the surface of the sun hurled a huge amount of heat toward Earth — the biggest dose our planet has received from our closest star in seven years, NASA scientists said.

The March 8 through 10 solar storm shot enough energy toward Earth to power every home in New York City for two years, according to space agency researchers.

Although the influx of solar energy puffed up the atmosphere, increasing drag on low-orbiting satellites, it caused fewer disruptions to electronic infrastructure such as electronic grids than some expected. It also offered plenty of eye candy, sparking dazzling auroras in many places.

"It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet," Martin Mlynczak of NASA Langley Research Center said in a statement.

The solar eruptions began on March 6, and on March 8 a coronal mass ejection — a wave of charged particles — smashed into Earth's magnetic field. Read More