The extreme space weather that tore through Earth’s orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday. However, few Earthlings had any idea what was going on. “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire,” said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado.
Instead the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft, a solar observatory that is “almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event,” NASA said. Scientists have analyzed the treasure trove of data it collected and concluded that it would have been comparable to the largest known space storm in 1859, known as the Carrington event.
It also would have been twice as bad as the 1989 solar storm that knocked out power across Quebec, scientists said. “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” said Baker. Read More