A recent US-UK study that was carried out by the British Antarctic Survey in collaboration with the University of Surrey, UK, and Boston University, US, reveals that satellites face up-raised risk from high-speed solar wind than from geomagnetic storms.
The study was titled as “Realistic worst case for a severe space weather event driven by a fast solar wind stream,” which was partially funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK, as part of the Rad-Sat project to safeguard satellites from space Environment.
Scientists, who are pursuing about the risks in space weather conditions to the orbiting satellites had calculated electron radiation levels within the Van Allen radiation belt consisting of charged particles that are trapped in a zone, where the geostationary orbit which looks like a ring doughnut that surrounds the Earth sits in this radiation belt.
The Scientists especially stated that “Fast solar wind is more dangerous to satellites because electron radiation levels are increased all the way around the orbit as the geomagnetic field that extends above the geostationary orbit.” The study which took place for several years concluded that electron radiation levels at geostationary orbit could increase their levels for more than five days even after the speed of solar wind slows down considerably and as a result, electronic components on satellites may get charged up to eminent levels, which finally leads to damage.
Richard Horne, British Antarctic Survey professor and lead author of the study said: “Till the time we thought that the Geo-Magnetic Storms will be the deep threat for the satellites in space but in this regard we came to know that ‘High Energy Solar Winds’ creates an unsustainable environment to them and also mentions that there are over 450 satellites in geostationary orbit and so in a realistic worst scenario there may be a to expect many satellites to report malfunctions resulting for a strong service outage or total satellite loss”.