Gallery: NASA Devises Solar Shield to Protect US National Grid

Explanation: In this picture, the Sun's surface is quite dark. A frame from a movie recorded on November 9th by the orbiting TRACE telescope, it shows coronal loops lofted over a solar active region. Glowing brightly in extreme ultraviolet light, the hot plasma
 
Explanation: In this picture, the Sun's surface is quite dark. A frame from a movie recorded on November 9th by the orbiting TRACE telescope, it shows coronal loops lofted over a solar active region. Glowing brightly in extreme ultraviolet light, the hot plasma entrained above the Sun along arching magnetic fields is cooling and raining back down on the solar surface. Hours earlier, on November 8th, astronomers had watched this particular active region produce a not so spectacular solar flare. Still, the M-class flare spewed forth an intense storm of particles, suddenly showering satellites near the Earth with high energy protons. The flare event was also associated with a large coronal mass ejection, a massive cloud of material which impacted our fair planet's magnetic field about 31 hours later. The result ... a strong geomagnetic storm. Credit: NASA/GSFC/TRACE To learn more go to: http://nasascience.nasa.gov/missions/trace To learn more about NASA's Sun Earth Day go here: http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2010/index.php

There are many things threatening the US National Grid at the moment – rolling blackouts, lack of funding and problems integrating renewable energy – but NASA is working on their defense against another threat: solar storms. NASA’s scheme, dubbed the Solar Shield, will aim to prevent blackouts caused by solar storms through a forecasting system that would enable the Space Agency to pinpoint certain high-risk transformers. The Solar Shield would then warn grid operators, giving them enough time to isolate the problem and prevent widespread damage.

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