NASA Can Now AI-Predict Solar Storms And Give A 30 Minute Warning

Charles Oladimeji
NASA has unveiled an innovative computer model that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and NASA satellite data to forecast hazardous space weather events and solar storms, providing valuable lead time for necessary preparations.
Active Solar Storm
Magnificent CME Erupts on the Sun. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Wikimedia Commons

NASA has pioneered an advanced artificial intelligence-driven system aimed at anticipating and safeguarding against imminent and potentially destructive weather-related incidents that pose a threat to lives and properties, with a particular focus on the United States.

NASA’s groundbreaking AI system has the capability to forecast solar storms with a remarkable lead time of 30 minutes, providing crucial moments to prepare for potentially devastating consequences, such as widespread blackouts caused by detrimental impacts on the power grid and unforeseen weather conditions.

The model, being the first of its kind, had the capacity to harness the power of artificial intelligence to analyze spacecraft measurements of the solar wind—a continuous stream of material emanating from the sun. With remarkable accuracy, it predicts the precise locations where imminent solar storms will make an impact, providing an impressive 30-minute advance warning, regardless of the global location.

The Effects Of Solar Storms 

Solar Flare sends Shockwaves on The Sun. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Wikimedia Commons

When the sun releases a burst of electrically charged plasma known as a coronal mass ejection, it initiates solar storms that propagate outward. These storms generate geomagnetic disturbances capable of triggering blackouts and malfunctions in Earth’s technological infrastructure.
The impact of these storms is significant due to their interference with Earth’s magnetic field, which can potentially render satellites completely inoperable.

As our world becomes increasingly reliant on technology for even the most basic tasks, the effects of these storms are more acutely felt. To illustrate, an immensely destructive solar storm in 1989 led to a 12-hour blackout in Quebec, leaving millions of Canadians without electricity and prompting the closure of schools and businesses. In an even more extreme case, the Carrington Event of 1859 stands as the most intense solar storm on record, causing fires at telegraph stations and disrupting communication.

Reflection of Clouds in a Solar Storm. Photo: Johannes Plenio | Pexels

If such an event were to occur today, its impact would be far more severe, resulting in widespread electrical disruptions, persistent blackouts, and global communication breakdowns. The ensuing technological chaos could cripple economies and pose a significant threat to people’s safety and livelihoods worldwide. The risk of geomagnetic storms is steadily increasing, which promises highly adverse consequences for the planet.

To mitigate further damage, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Department of Energy are leveraging AI to identify connections between the solar wind and disruptive geomagnetic perturbations that wreak havoc on our technology. These efforts aim to prevent and prepare for potential situations that may arise from these disturbances.

The Newly Developed Computer Model 

Image of a Solar Flare Captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Photo: NASA | NASA.GOV

An international team of researchers, including NASA scientists, has developed a highly advanced computer model called DAGGER, designed to swiftly and accurately forecast global geomagnetic disturbances up to 30 minutes before they occur. Remarkably, this model is capable of generating predictions in less than a second, with updates provided every minute. To validate its efficacy, the team subjected DAGGER to rigorous testing against two significant geomagnetic storms that took place in August 2011 and March 2015.

In both instances, the model demonstrated its ability to rapidly and precisely forecast the worldwide impact of the storms.
Vishal Upendran, affiliated with the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in India and the lead author of a paper on the DAGGER model published in the journal Space Weather, expressed his confidence in the AI system, stating, “With this AI, it is now possible to make rapid and accurate global predictions and inform decisions in the event of a solar storm, thereby minimizing or even preventing devastation to modern society.”

The significance of this groundbreaking AI technology cannot be overstated. Scientists believe that the early warnings provided by DAGGER can facilitate prompt actions to safeguard critical infrastructure from impending solar storms. These actions might include temporarily taking sensitive systems offline or adjusting satellite orbits to minimize potential damage.

We invite you to share your thoughts on NASA’s new computer model in the comments section below.


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