Intense geomagnetic storm kills Galaxy-15 satellite used by media, new sunspot directly facing Earth

Intense geomagnetic storm kills Galaxy-15 satellite used by media, new sunspot directly facing Earth

August 24, 2022 Off By Sharp Media

As activity ramps up on the sun in its current cycle, the star in the center of our solar system is bursting with energy, hurtling dangerous flares towards the planets. A storm that arrived close to Earth on August 19 killed the Galaxy-15 broadcast satellite operated by international satellite firm, Intelsat.

The satellite was knocked out due to an extreme space weather event that likely fried the circuitry and electronics onboard the spacecraft, rendering it useless. The firm, however, told that it is trying to regain control of the satellite.

The satellite is equipped with 24 C-band transponders that cater to media customers along with L-band payload that was previously used by the US Federal Aviation Administration to relay GPS information to aircraft. Designed by Northrop Grumman, the company is in the process of offloading its customers to another satellite.

“The satellite is otherwise operating nominally, keeping earth pointing with all payload operations nominal,” Intelsat spokesperson Melissa Longo told adding that they expect customers will have service continuity.

The Sun has been immensely active in the last week during which 17 coronal mass ejections were observed, along with 19 solar flares and 11 sunspots. Several new sunspots have been observed popping up on the surface, including AR3085 which has increased 10-fold in just two days, turning itself into a double sunspot group with cores nearly as wide as Earth.

Spaceweather, which tracks solar activity, reported that the active region is directly facing Earth and crackling with C-class solar flares.

This is not the first time that space weather has killed satellites. Earlier this year, SpaceX lost a batch of 40 Starlink satellites to a sudden change in the space environment. The satellites were deployed in an orbit around 210 kilometers above Earth, and each satellite had achieved controlled flight after successful deployment, before the geomagnetic storm from the Sun struck.

The storm causes the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at low deployment altitudes to increase. The escalation of speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches.