May 10-12, 2024 Geospace Storm

On May 8, 2024, an active region on the Sun’s surface as wide as 15 Earths launched several coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – magnetic bubbles of high-energy solar plasma accelerated to over a million miles per hour. Two days later, the CMEs arrived at Earth generating the strongest geospace storm since 2003. 

Within the ensuing 24 hours, beautiful aurorae were reported in both hemispheres. Places like Hawaii, the Bahamas, South Africa and Australia were dazzled by the extraordinarily energetic sky.

However, with spectacular creation, the Sun brings potential dangers for our technological society. Among the real challenges posed during extreme space weather events:

  • Potential spacecraft failure due to charging that results in arcs and discharges
  • The expansion of the upper atmosphere causing satellite drag and orbital decay
  • Geomagnetically-induced currents (GICs) underground that can cause power grid irregularities
  • Dangerously high radiation doses for astronauts and passengers and crew of trans-polar flights

On May 10, 2024, the DST (Disturbance Storm Time) index, a measurement of the magnetic field strength of the Earth’s ring current, surpassed -400 nanotesla (nT). By comparison, the largest geospace storm on record, the Carrington Event of August 1859 (solar cycle 10), which had a sequence of two CMEs that successively hit Earth, produced an estimated DST of over -1000 nT.

To quantify the impact of this storm and revolutionize Geospace forecasting, the MAGE (Multiscale Atmosphere-Geospace Environment) model from the Center for Geospace Storms (CGS) – available for public use via the NASA Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) – is currently simulating this event at a processing rate faster than real-time, giving us a glimpse into the future of all geospace.

What lessons can we learn, as a technological species, from the May 2024 geospace storm? Stay tuned to this webpage as we discover answers.

Latest Entries

id Date Title Media Caption 3 Item Date (full)