Internet May Shutdown Over Solar Storm in 2021: Check Date, Time

2 Sep, 2021 15:45 IST|Sakshi Post

Researchers have discovered that a solar storm poses a danger to the Internet infrastructure, ranging from satellites to marine cables.

Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi conducted studies on the effects of solar storms.

A large enough solar storm in 2021 may destroy infrastructure and create an internet blackout.

The effects of a solar storm can be devastating.

It has the potential to take down the internet, which would have a significant impact on the digital world.

Here's what one Indian researcher had to say about the Internet's backbone.

Solar Storm 2021: Another solar storm is on the way, and the Internet, which is at the heart of nearly every activity in the world today, including government, health, industry, finance, and even education, is once again in jeopardy. According to recent research on solar storm effects, a big impending solar storm is likely to disrupt infrastructure, resulting in a global digital catastrophe.

A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), often known as a solar storm, is a directed ejection of a huge mass of highly magnetised particles from the sun, according to a study report released by Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi of the University of California, Irvine and VMware Research. When the planet is directly hit by a solar storm, the magnetised and charged solar particles interact with the earth's magnetic field, causing a variety of consequences, including damage to long-distance cables that serve as the Internet's backbone.

Nowadays, the internet largely employs fibre optic connections, which, unlike previous generations of coaxial cables, are impervious to solar storms since they carry light rather than electric current. Longhaul cables that span hundreds or thousands of kilometres, on the other hand, include an additional wire called the power feeding line that links repeaters in series throughout the length of the cable. According to the study, solar storms will influence this conductor.

Solar Storm 2021 Infra Threat:

In addition, the study claims that underwater cables are more vulnerable to a solar storm than terrestrial cables, owing to their longer lengths. The impact of a solar storm on the internet infrastructure, according to the study, also depends on topology. The United States, for example, is extremely vulnerable to a break with Europe. Europe is in a vulnerable position, but because of the availability of a higher number of shorter cables, it is more robust. Asia has a high level of resilience, with Singapore serving as a regional centre with ties to several nations. "Google data centres are more resilient than Facebook data centres," the study concluded.

While solar storms have a greater impact on undersea cables, researchers believe that communication satellites are among the most badly damaged systems. "The damages are not caused by GIC but due to direct exposure to highly charged particles in CMEs... Threats to communication satellites include damage to electronic components and extra drag on the satellite, particularly in low earth orbit systems such as Starlink, that can cause orbital decay and uncontrolled reentry to the earth," the researcher wrote.

Solar Storm 2021 Impact:

If you're wondering what kind of impact this solar storm will have on the Internet, researcher Jyothi has some ideas. According to the study, the majority of repeaters are prone to failure. And if most of a network's repeaters go down, it may result in an internet blackout in a country that relies only on underwater connections.

Even if one path fails, the Internet nowadays is built in such a way that traffic may be redirected through another. However, this would come at a significant cost in terms of both connectivity and speed. However, predicting exactly what will happen when the solar storm hits is challenging. In any case, it's reasonable to assume things won't go well. Having said that, it will all be determined by the scale of the solar storm. Because size does matter.

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