Intensive charged particles from the sun and may have caused some recent satellite malfunctions, scientists say.
The sun, from 93 million miles away, fires solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other space weather events. These “solar storms” can send highly energized particles heading toward Earth. Some of them disrupt satellites that people rely on to watch TV and use the Internet.
The team’s research is published in the journal Space Weather.
Scientists from MIT investigated the space weather conditions to understand the high-speed disturbances in space, which caused 26 failures in eight geostationary satellites operated by the London-based company Inmarsat.
Geostationary satellites orbit at the same rate as the Earth’s rotation, which allows the satellites to maintain a constant location relative to the planet throughout their lifetime.
Study found that most of the problems, from 1996 to 2012, overlapped with high-speed particle activity during declining phases of the solar cycle.