DSCOVR promises better safety for electrical grids from solar flares

DSCOVR spacecraft NOAA

A new addition to a space-based early warning system promises greater safety for power grids on Earth.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) spacecraft Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, stationed 1.6 million kilometers from Earth is to begin observation of the Sun and keep track of solar eruptions beginning next month.

The spacecraft will warn Earth-based stations about solar ejections that could damage the magnetic field of Earth and disrupt grids, global positioning systems and communications networks.

The satellite is part of a system that US Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, uses to warn entities such as power companies, airlines and other susceptible industries about possibly disruptive solar forces.

Orbiting at a stationary point known as Lagrange Point 1, DSCOVR is able to provide information on solar flares headed for Earth half-an-hour to an hour in advance.

Lagrange Point 1 is the point where gravity of the Sun and gravity of Earth combine with the satellite’s motion and keep it in a geostationary orbit.

Space observers use a host of devices including telescopes, coronagraphs and other satellites to monitor solar flares and ejections. They are able to forecast the makeup of the energy and predict the likely points of impact.

Earth is increasingly susceptible to such solar events owing to the proliferation of electronic devices and communication.

Ajith Kumar S