FACT CHECK: Is A Massive Solar Storm That Could Affect GPS, Internet And Satellites Heading Toward Earth?
An image shared on Instagram claims a “massive solar storm heading towards Earth could affect GPS, internet and satellites.”
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The Space Weather Prediction Center’s forecast does not show any major solar storm heading toward Earth in the coming days. There were also no major solar storms last week.
Solar storms are natural phenomena that occur when disturbances on the sun, such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections, emit electromagnetic radiation and charged particle radiation into the solar system, according to CBS News. Under certain conditions, such solar activity can disrupt satellites as well as technologies on Earth like GPS and radio communications, according to NASA.
The July 14 Instagram post claims a “massive solar storm” that can impact GPS, internet and satellites is heading toward Earth. However, there is no mention of an imminent solar storm to that effect on the Space Weather Prediction Center’s three-day forecast, and no such storm occurred last week.
The forecast on Monday said, “Solar activity is likely to remain very low with a slight chance for C-class flares on 19-21 Jul,” while Tuesday’s forecast currently states, “Solar activity is expected to be very low, with an increasing chance of C-class flares 20-22 Jul.” C-class solar flares are “too weak to noticeably affect Earth,” according to NASA.
“The solar observations have been greatly mischaracterized,” Theo Stein, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said in an email to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: No, This Is Not A ‘Photo From Mars’ Fabricated By NASA)
The last significant solar activity registered by the NOAA occurred on July 3, when an X-1 solar flare was observed. X-class flares are the strongest type of solar flare and can affect Earth, according to NASA. The July 3 flare was the largest since 2017 and caused a brief radio blackout, according to Space.com.