Back in 2012, the worst solar storm in the last two centuries, tore away through Earth's orbit, but luckily for us humans, the storm didn't hit Earth. However, the battle is not yet over as scientists claim another one could strike in the coming years.
According to scientists, who are now shedding light on this solar event that we didn't know about until now, it could have had a "catastrophic effect," if it had ever stroked Earth. Several countries would have been without power for months or years, and a combined $2 trillion loss. Chances are; many people would have also died during this catastrophe.
"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado said in a statement released by NASA this week.
The storm occurred on July 23, 2012, and as per researchers, if it had landed a week earlier, it would have hit Earth and tons of highly charged particles would have slammed the planet like rain. The particles in question are called coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and they would have likely reach Earth within a day or less.
While we were lucky enough that the 2012 storm didn't slam into Earth, NASA spacecraft STEREO-A wasn't so lucky.
Since the incident, scientists have been researching to find out whether or not such a storm is possible again, and as it turns out, it is.
As per Physicist Pete Riley, the odds of another solar storm hitting Earth in the next ten years have a 12 percent chance of happening. Surely a 12 percent chance is quite low, but we must still be careful because such storms possess the ability to send us back to the Stone Age.
The last solar storm took place in 1989, and it managed to kick out Quebec's power grid. Furthermore, there was another in 2003 that destroyed transformers in Europe and North America.
If a powerful solar storm hit Earth today, the loss of electricity would make life terrible. Water distribution would be cut off, heating, air conditioning and sewage disposal would stop working. Those in heated areas who rely on air conditioning would like need medical attention, and for the folks in cold areas who desperately needs heating, well, they'd likely freeze to death.
As it stands now, we need to do whatever it takes to make sure these terrible things never happen.