Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are massive expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun’s surface, the corona. They send highly-charged particles in waves out towards the outer Solar System. The Earth’s magnetic field generally protects us from these solar flares, but particularly strong CMEs have the potential to knock out electrical equipment, including internet infrastructure and satellites. The Sun is currently in the active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, meaning there is a higher likelihood of large CMEs occurring.
In 1989, for example, a solar storm was responsible for cutting the electrical supply of over 6 million people in and around Québec for nine hours. It even halted the Toronto Stock Exchange for three hours by disrupting what was supposed to be a “fault-tolerant” computer.
An assistant professor from the University of California, Irvine, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, recently warned that we are now much more heavily reliant on electrical infrastructure than before, and a similar outage affecting global internet infrastructure could cost $7.2 billion per day.
China’s new project will analyze the Sun
The SCMP reports that the construction of the DSRT is currently on schedule to finish this year. As per Space.com, the development of the telescope array is part of China’s wider plans for a ground-based space environment monitoring network called the Chinese Meridian Project.