Essay Analysis of the Weather in Space

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On October 27, 2003, the Sun came off the heels of emitting some massive, X-class solar flares. Just the day before, at both 650 and 1815 UTC, the Sun launched two flares from sunspots 486 and 484, respectively. They were expected to create aurorae after striking Earth’s magnetic field sometime on October 28. Little was it known at the time that this event would pale in comparison to what was coming in only a matter of days, if not hours (Phillips, 27 Oct.). The next day, October 28, at 1110 UTC, the Sun emitted a massive X17.2 solar flare, which registered third all-time in recorded history. This flare, which came from sunspot 486—at this point, also observable from Earth under proper viewing conditions—also launched a coronal mass …show more content…
and 4 Nov.). About a week later, on November 4, 2003, the Sun emitted a solar flare that clocked in at an X28, the largest on record (“The Most Powerful Solar Flares”). This was one of the most active periods of solar activity in recorded history, and it remains the most active since the beginning of the new millennium. The October 28 solar flare and subsequent CME generated plenty of discussion and intrigue in solar weather and activity. It and the other massive ejections within this timeframe have since earned the nickname of the “Halloween Storms of 2003,” now among the most widely studied and well-known solar weather events (Dunbar). More importantly, it caused widespread problems around the globe. Power was affected from New Jersey to Sweden—nuclear plants in the former had to have their output decreased in order to prevent blackouts, while the latter experienced widespread power outages due to an excess of electric activity on its power grids. Outside the atmosphere, control of satellites in orbit was lost, including one Japanese satellite that was deemed a total loss. The International Space Station’s astronauts had to enter a safety chamber to avoid the radiation effects (Young). Amidst other planets within the Solar System, the flare also made itself known. The Mars Odyssey’s radiation monitors were destroyed due to the flares, while both the Cassini and Voyager 2 spacecraft reported their interaction with the radiation months later. On a lighter note, the

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