Elon Musk Warns of Starlink Satellite Pressure Amid Historic Solar Storm

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Solar storms:

Elon Musk warns Starlink satellites under pressure due to powerful solar storm; NOAA confirms G4 geomagnetic storm with more expected.

The most powerful solar storm in more than two decades struck Earth on Friday. In its wake, Starlink boss Elon Musk has warned that the company’s satellites are “under a lot of pressure, but holding on so far.”

“Major geomagnetic solar storm is happening right now. Biggest in a long time. Starlink satellites are under a lot of pressure, but holding up so far,” Musk said in an X post.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center, a Geomagnetic storm has been observed. On NOAA scales, the solar storm has been marked as G4, which means severe.

When will the solar storm persist?

Geomagnetic storms will probably continue over the weekend as several more Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are en route to Earth’s outer atmosphere.

As satellites orbit Earth, they encounter atmospheric drag, gradually slowing them down. During space weather events like geomagnetic storms, this drag can intensify.

SpaceX has deployed thousands of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit over the years. On February 4, 2022, 38 Starlink satellites were lost, and the reason was a geomagnetic storm, a research concluded.

Before these 38 satellites could be elevated to a higher orbit, they were destroyed by the storm.

What is the reason for the recent solar storms?

The recent solar storms mainly stem from a huge sunspot cluster called NOAA Region 3664, a whopping 17 times bigger than Earth. More activity is expected from this region.

Starting from 2019, this solar cycle has only seen three severe (G4) geomagnetic storms. The last extreme (G5) event happened during the Halloween Storms in October 2003. Those storms caused power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

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