CAPE TOWN – The South African National Space Agency (Sansa) has warned that a massive solar flare could affect television, cellular and GPS signals in the country.

The sun has unleashed two massive solar flares, the second of which is the strongest flare in over a decade, said Sansa’s Catherine Webster.

“The burst of radiation was so intense, it caused high frequency (HF) radio blackouts across the daytime side of Earth affecting HF communication over Africa, Europe and the Atlantic Ocean.”

“The first flare erupted on 6 Sep 2017 from active region 2673 and measured in at X 2.2. Hot on its heels, another flare blasted off the sun three hours later, measuring in at a whopping X 9.3 – the most powerful flare since 2005,” she said.

The solar flares were accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) which travelled towards Earth at speeds over 1,200 km per second and impacted the earth’s magnetic field early morning on 8 September 2017.

“The impact of the CME has sparked a strong (G3) geomagnetic storm on earth, which can have effects on HF communication, power grids, navigation systems such as GPS, and communication systems such as DStv, mobile phones and internet connectivity. Moderate disturbances are expected at this stage,” she said.

Sansa said it was monitoring the space storm closely with the storm expected to last for the next 24 hours – until Saturday morning.



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