November 02, 2010
Scientists have forecast a solar storm
may occur sometime in 2012 and reportedly its impact can include
power outages and mobile phone malfunction.
Clara Y. Yatini, of the
National of Aeronautics and Space’s (LAPAN) Solar and Space
Division, said activity on the
sun’s surface might increase in 2012,
causing magnetic storms to hurl energy particles toward earth.
“The energy released from a flare is
equal to 100 million hydrogen bombs,” Clara said in
Jakarta on Tuesday.
She explained that flares would likely
affect satellites, telecommunication towers, power grids and global
positioning system (GPS) equipment.
“You should not trust your GPS
device during the storm,” Clara said.
The solar flare may disrupt data
transfer via electronic devices, she said, adding that it could also
cause blackouts as large as those that occurred in Sweden, Denmark
and Italy in 2003.
“A blackout in one region can have a
“This may impact businesses such as those in the finance
industry, for example.”
Satellites will suffer the most, she
“Flares can reduce a satellite’s age
by 50 percent if they are strong enough.”
Astronaut and spaceship safety may also
be threatened by powerful geomagnetic storms, the scientist added.
The magnetic storms, a 11-year cycle in sun activity, will last for
about one or two hours, but their impact can last for about one or
Nevertheless, researchers cannot tell the exact day the infernal
storm will occur.
“The latest release from NASA said
it can only predict the storm a week before,” Clara said.
Elly Kuntjahyowati, from the
Communications Bureau of LAPAN, said her agency had intensely
monitored the sun’s activity to detect explosions or storms.
“We will inform companies about
possible explosions, such as [state electricity company] PLN,
that may be affected by solar activity,” she said.
LAPAN is currently building a warning
system to inform institutions such as the military and PLN about
potentially harmful sun storms.
Scientists say the sun’s surface is constantly unstable because of
its unequal magnetic rotations.
The earth is protected by a magnetosphere from space “weather”, but
the effects from several solar phenomena may go beyond protective
layers, given certain interplanetary magnetic fields positions,
In March 1989, a power outage due to sun storms occurred in Quebec,
In April 2001, sun storms harmed several military and communication
Suwono, head of the post sales division at telecommunication company
Indosat, was not worried about the scientists’ prediction, saying
the solar storm would only affect certain parts of the company’s
coverage areas, which use satellites.
“We mostly use [underground] fiber
optic cables,” he said.
But there were possibilities sun storms
may affect data transfer through fiber optic cables, he added.
Suwono said Indosat had deployed special disaster data recovery
systems to deal with possible data loss due to natural phenomena.
Indosat said signal disruption due to solar activity was nothing new
to the industry.
“Often we experience sun
interference when the sun’s signals overpower satellite’s.
“Such interference could cause signal disruption lasting one or