11-10-2017 10:30 AM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream
A magnetic shield to protect Earth from solar flares
As our lives increasingly revolve around technology, one cannot imagine the detrimental effect a solar flare can cause due to damage to the electrical infrastructure.
Currently, human activity is highly dependent on the infrastructure located in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Aside from the many telecommunications satellites that are currently in space, there's also the International Space Station and a fleet of GPS satellites.
Scientists, therefore, consider a solar flare activity as a serious hazard and its mitigation as a priority. They have proposed a bold solution – placing a giant magnetic shield in orbit.
In a study conducted by Manasavi Lingam and Abraham Loeb from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysicist (CfA) they explain that solar flares pose a particularly grave risk in today's world, and will become an even greater threat due to humanity's growing presence in LEO.
A great deal of effort has been dedicated to the study of solar flares since the famous Carrington event of 1859 when a massive solar storm engulfed the Earth and ruined our old technology.
It is said that if the Carrington event were to take place today the estimated loss would amount to US$10 trillion, and recovery would take several years. To counter the risk, Lingam and Loeb have considered the possibility of placing a magnetic shield between Earth and the Sun at Lagrange Point 1, where it would be able to deflect charged particles and create an artificial bowshock around Earth.
Loeb said that the cost for lifting the needed infrastructure to space (weighing 100,000 tons) will likely be of order 100 billions of dollars, much less than the expected damage over a century.
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