The X-class solar flare, exploded off the sun on Tuesday. It is scheduled to hit the Earth Thursday. NASA has already delayed one launch in order to prevent damage from the increased amount of radiation.
In 2012, U.S. military satellites were damaged by a March solar flare, Gen. William Shelton, head of U.S. Air Force Space Command, confirmed. He said military satellites are hardened to sustain certain amounts of radiation, but not all parts are protected as much as he’d like.
In many cases, NASA and Air Force operators will shut down satellites just ahead of when a solar flare is about to hit in order to protect sensitive parts.
“They can go into a ‘safe mode.’ Once the storm dies down, they can turn it back on,” Shelton said back in 2012.
Solar flares are not only damaging to satellites, they can also wreak havoc on electric grids across the globe. One NASA official said a large enough solar flare could knock out electric grids across the U.S. and leave the country without power for months at a time.
While the solar flare could have the potential to be extremely destructive, it will put on quite a light show as the Northern Lights will expand as far south as Colorado.
Below is a video released by NASA of the flare exploding off the sun.