Change in solar activity brings increased radiation risk to air passengers

August 16, 2011 – Radiation risks to airplanes and spacecraft are likely to increase when the Sun moves from its present grand solar maximum to lower levels of activity, says research from the University of Reading.  The researchers say this a serious concern because our present day engineering, design, operation and insurance of vulnerable technology is based on past experience from the space age and does not yet account for long-term change in space climate. The scientists have paid particular attention to the radiation effects on aircraft crew and passengers on long-distance flights. The Sun has been in a ‘grand solar maximum’ which has already lasted longer than any other such maximum in the past 9.3 millennia and is expected to end soon. The changes in near-Earth space that will result will return Earth to conditions that last prevailed before the advent of susceptible modern operational systems, such as spacecraft, power distribution grids and aircraft. The study says that at cruise altitudes of commercial aviation, particularly at higher latitudes, high-energy ionising radiations such as Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) and Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) pose threats through single event upsets in electronics critical to flight safety, and through the radiation exposure of crew and passengers. GCRs are high energy particles generated by supernovae explosions in our galaxy and, because of the shielding effect of our Sun’s magnetic field, they give a continuous radiation dose throughout the solar system that increases during a solar activity minimum and decreases during a solar maximum. SEPs are bursts of energetic particles that are formed from supersonic ejections of material from the solar atmosphere. The work was led by Mike Lockwood, professor of Space Environment Physics at the University of Reading and his PhD student Luke Barnard. Professor Lockwood said: “Radiation standards for avionics are based only on experience from the current grand solar maximum and there are no regulations concerning passenger exposure.” –Physics.org
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5 Responses to Change in solar activity brings increased radiation risk to air passengers

  1. kingkevin says:

    So does anyone REALLY know what the sun is doing, I don’t think so. one week its not at the maximum yet, the next week its supposedly going into hibernation the next week it again is approaching solar maximum, then solar maximum is about over. Haven’t you guys realized yet they have no efffin clue as to what is actually occuring in the sun or earth. It’s a educated guess, made with unreal education…album has hit it on the head nearly evry time

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  2. zorar says:

    I agree!

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  3. Franky says:

    Holy !@”? That is the biggest I’ve seen

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  4. Bone Idle says:

    This is not news. This has been known for years. Every solar maximum airlines make it policy for pilots to limit the amount of times they fly polar air routes and fly at a lower level. At times of solar flares it’s best avoiding polar routes all together.

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  5. Scientists have a really good idea what is happening … it’s the media and counter media that seemingly has an interest in muddying the waters. We are stepping into some significant environmental changes in a very short amount of time on this planet, even more extreme than what you have thus far seen … epic.

    Everything that you think you know about yourself and your life is about to be challenged as the survival techniques suited to our current environment will be completely foreign for most denizens … probably an ending for most and a glorious new beginning for others. Perspective aside … we are the people we have been waiting for … the time is NOW.

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