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On January 19th a large Solar Flare erupted on the sun, producing a large CME (Coronal Mass Ejection).  The effect of this CME were seen over the weekend on the 21st and 22nd, as increased auroras were visible. The CME impacted and compressed Earth’s magnetic field enough to expose satellites in geosynchronous orbit to solar wind plasma. The Earth’s magnetic field reverberated for the following 24 hour from the impact, much like a stretched and then released rubber band.

This morning Jan 23th at 03:59 UTC, sunspot  1402 erupted, producing another large solar flare, and CME. This eruption was classified as a long-duration M9 solar flare.  This ranking puts it on the threshold of being an X-Class flare, which are the most powerful kind. Possible effects from flares of this size are: increased biological risk to astronauts and passengers aboard high altitude flights, increased risk to satellite systems from energetic particles, wide area blackouts of HF radio communication, degrading of low frequency navigation signals, and fluctuations in power grids.

According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the leading edge of the CME should reach Earth on Jan. 24th around 14:18 UTC give or take a few hours. This CME is fast moving, traveling at 2,200 kilometers per second or 1,367 miles per second, and will not only impact Earth, but Mars as well. The Red Planet is due to receive the storm about 30 hours after its encounter with Earth.

 

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