Solar Flares Could Hit GPS
It might be time to review those VOR skills in light of sunspot activity that had the potential to disrupt GPS signals on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, the sun sent a significant burst of electromagnetic energy toward earth after sunspot 1261 belched three major solar flares. The eruption was rated at three on a scale of five and that's enough to make GPS equipment lose its way. It's particularly hard on high-precision units like WAAS-capable aviation gear. The worst was expected to be over by late Saturday but there could be more solar storms coming.
After a prolonged period of unusual sleepiness, the sun appears to be waking up as it moves to the apex of its 11-year activity cycle. More big flares are possible, even likely, and if they get bigger than those on Thursday they can cause real problems. "In a solar cycle there are perhaps 10 or 20 events of this size," Brian J. Anderson, a research physicist at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab, told the Baltimore Sun. "This is not a once-in-a-century type of thing. I'd say it's the first really strong one we're seeing out of this solar cycle."
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