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Massive solar storm affecting Starlink satellites, causing ‘degraded service’ according to Musk



Elon Musk recently announced that the powerful geomagnetic storm hitting Earth is putting Starlink satellites under tremendous strain. The Space Weather Prediction Center reported that the storm reached level 5 on the 5-point scale of geomagnetic activity, marking the first such event since 2003. Musk took to social media to inform the public about the major solar storm, stating that Starlink satellites are under pressure but holding up so far. Starlink, a satellite arm of SpaceX, admitted to experiencing degraded service but did not provide further details.

Starlink currently has around 6,000 satellites in low earth orbit that deliver high-speed internet to customers through ground transceivers. The network uses inter-satellite laser links to pass data at the speed of light, providing internet coverage worldwide. With roughly 60% of Earth’s satellites under its ownership, Starlink is a dominant player in the satellite internet market. However, the impact of the geomagnetic storm on the satellites could disrupt navigation and communication services on Earth, potentially causing voltage control problems and grid failures.

Geomagnetic storms are caused by variations in the solar wind that lead to significant changes in Earth’s magnetosphere. The current storm, classified as a G5 event, poses risks to various systems including navigation, power grids, and satellite communication. The last time a Level 5 geomagnetic event occurred, power outages were reported in Sweden, and transformers were damaged in South Africa. The storm has already caused stunning Northern Light displays as far south as the Gulf Coast, with colorful sky phenomena visible in states such as Florida, Texas, and Alabama.

As the storm gradually subsides to a level 4 on the geomagnetic activity scale, additional solar flares are expected to reach Earth over the weekend. This could prolong the effects of the storm into early next week, potentially increasing risks to critical infrastructure systems. News outlets such as Fox Weather and Reuters have contributed to the coverage of the ongoing geomagnetic storm and its impact on satellite services. It is crucial for companies like SpaceX to monitor and mitigate the effects of such extreme space weather events on their satellite operations to ensure uninterrupted services for their customers.

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