On July 23, 2012, the whole world was going about its daily chores, fully unaware that an “extreme solar storm” could have knocked the human life back to the Dark Ages. It could have caused widespread blackout. The solar storm had the potential to wipe out all communications networks, GPS, satellite transmissions, computers, smartphones, TVs, radio broadcasts. Moreover, everything that runs on electricity, hospital supplies, factories, electric pumps, and even water supplies would have stopped because he power supply would have been irrevocably damaged.
The solar storm was a billion-ton cloud of plasma
Imagine just ten minutes of life without electricity, laptop, TV, radio, mobile, tablets, and other similar stuff. Now imagine living that kind of life for months or years. That’s what would have been the consequence of the solar storm hitting our planet. Fortunately, it missed the Earth by a week. Daniel Baker, of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said had the solar eruption occurred just one week earlier, our planet would have been in the line of fire.
On July 23, 2012, the Sun forced out plasma clouds, or coronal mass ejection (CME), at a speed of more than 1,800 miles per second, four times faster than a typical solar storm. Baker said, “”If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces.” Baker, along with scientists from NASA and other universities, was studying the disaster that didn’t happen. Had it hit our planet, it would have disabled “everything that plugs into a wall socket. NASA estimated that the cost would have been upward of $2 trillion.
Though it missed Earth, the solar storm did hit a spacecraft
There is still a lot of data on the solar storm for scientists to study. Though it missed the Earth, the plasma cloud hit a spacecraft laden with monitoring equipment. Researchers described the solar storm as a “Carrington Event,” named after the British astrologer Richard Carrington, who witnessed a similar solar storm in 1859. He saw the solar flare, and a series of CMEs hit the Earth in the following days. It was the time of horse-carts and steam engines. So, that was less crippling than a similar solar storm would be today. However, it did cause spark in telegraph lines, setting many telegraph offices on fire.