NASA Building “Solar Shield” As Flares Threaten Huge Disturbances to Electrical Grid, Computers, Telephones, Transportation, Water Supply and Food Production

by | Nov 7, 2010 | Headline News | 18 comments

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    In a recent report the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, one of the world’s leading space research organizations, says that critical social infrastructure elements like the electrical grid, computers, telephones, transportation, water supply and food production face “huge disturbances” from space storms.

    SHTFplan has previously noted that NASA is monitoring for severe space weather events due to the potential risks that may result if such an event were to occur. According to a 132 page NASA funded report titled Severe Space Weather Events Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts, the interconnectedness of our grids makes cascading failures a real possibility, with worst-case effects resulting in total down-grid collapse:

    The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on.

    The report modeled a scenario of the May 1921 solar storm, which was reported to have ground currents tens times stronger than the 1989 storm in Quebec, Canada. The Quebec storm took out power to millions for approximately 9 hours and cost in excess of $2 billion to. A storm similar to the 1921 storm, if it happened today, would wipe out some 350 transformers and adversely affect 130 million Americans by taking down the a majority of the power grid, if not the whole thing.

    To counter the threat, NASA is building what some have dubbed a “solar shield” to protect critical infrastructures. The “shield” is better described as more of a monitoring and response system than a Star Wars style force field protecting the earth:

    The threat to power grids during bad solar weather is known as GIC, or geomagnetically induced current. When the sun ejects a huge coronal mass in our direction, the impact with our atmosphere shakes up Earth’s magnetic field. That generates electric currents from the upper atmosphere all the way down to the ground. These can cripple power grids, overloading circuits and in some cases melting heavy-duty transformers.

    Those transformers are very necessary to keep the power flowing. They’re also expensive, irreparable in the field, and can take a year to replace. Meaning that a massive coronal ejection could knock down entire power grids for long stretches of time, grinding economies to a halt and making life more than a little inconvenient.

    But NASA has a plan to battle these blackouts with blackouts. If transformers are offline at the time the storm hits they will not be affected, so the trick is to figure out where and when a storm is going to hit before it reaches the atmosphere. To do that, NASA’s SOHO and two STEREO spacecraft identify a coronal mass ejection (CME) heading toward earth and create a 3-D image of it, allowing researchers to characterize its strength and determine when it will hit.

    Source: PopSci

    NASA and the US government seem to be taking the threat of a societal impacting solar threat as a serious possibility, which is most certainly a good thing. To say that such an event would make life “more than a little inconvenient” is a gross understatement. With a complete and irreparable down-grid scenario, the after-effects would mirror an EMP style attack. According to the Center for Security Policy that means nine out of ten Americans would be dead within one year if the grid could not be repaired.

    Luckily, NASA’s on the job, monitoring not just asteroids, but focusing their efforts on the Sun. The only problem with the new shield?

    Though NASA will have 24 – 48 hours forewarning that a solar discharge is on the way, they won’t know until about 30 minutes before impact where the geomagnetically induced current (GIC) is going to hit. Not really a whole lot of time when we’re talking about tens of millions of lives depending on the shield to work.

    The hope is that within this 30 minute time frame NASA will be able to identify where the GIC will occur and contact necessary infrastructure heads to shut down the grids before the sun takes us back to the stone age.

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      1. electricity really isn’t that important -come on mac, there are much more important issues facing us all.

        we need to start seriously looking at the entitlement programs that are endangering our basic economic survival.  state and locally funded pension plans and healthcare plans, social security, medicare and medicaid need to be abolished ASAP. i’m sure the deficit commission with 14 intelligent and socially conscious conservative members will soon come forth with some critical recommendations involving these scandalous rip-offs. when obama returns from his hard working trip to india involving preparations for mutual defense from chinese imperialism he needs to take immediate steps to end the food stamp program and  unemployment payments to all those lazy jerks who have refused to work for over a year. this will save our country hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. he also needs to work with geithner and bernanke on a continuous plan involving using periodic QE2,QE3, QE4, QE5 contibutions to step-wise bail out all our major wall street banks by buying all their toxic debts that were caused by ignorant people buying homes they knew they couldn’t afford. obama also needs to immediately stop the interest deductions on all those home mortgages that have been ripping off our IRS for decades. there also needs to be a much higher long term federal tax on gasoline and automobile purchases as well as an immediate legislative continuation of the bush tax cuts for our wealthy citizens so they will stay in this country and  create even more jobs.


      2. All what you said mushroom is good except you forgot to mention a reduction on military spending as well. we can start by closing every military base we have around the world, a 50-60% cut on military spending,the end of the wars of the middle east,no more foreign economic and military aid to nations. No more military aid to Palestine,Lebanon,Iraq,Turkey,Israel,Pakistan,Egypt,India,South Korea,japan,Germany,Saudi Arabia,Kuwait,and Persian gulf states. 

      3. dear M…..A…..      NO!   NO!  NO!   NO!   please……

        we must increase military spending at least three fold. don’t you understand how vital our military and all those private contractors are . they are  courageously defending us from all those billions of infidels who are about ready to invade america and destroy our charished and god-given capitalistic and   judeochristian ways of life. i look forwardto 2012 when i can votefor general petraeus and sarah palin for president and vice-president.

        god bless our glorious american military…..

      4. People can learn to survive without electricity if it ever came to that, government could not.  The people would be forced to take care of themselves again like they used to.  Not that I look forward to anything like that, but there is probably no other way the Beast will fall.  At least without killing as many of us as a full power failure would cause.

        I doubt the grid will ever go down, and if it did it would not be for very long.  The police state needs power for the FEMA camps and surveillance systems they have everywhere. 

        The parasite knows the host will die without its electrical power, so it will be provided or it will die with the rest of us.

      5. I’m with you on this one Mac. We are moving towards solar max and the probability of GIC increase dramatically. NE US is particularly vulnerable due to power being imported from Canada. Alaska faces the same problem. GICs are greater the closer to the magnetic poles on the sunward facing part of starship earth when it hits.

        Stores typically carry 3 days worth of stock. Most families carry maybe 3-7 days worth on thier shelves. Now imagine the inner city on day 3.  Try to grasp the food distribution network without power for 3 or more days of no refrigeration.

        I sense dark days (no pun intended) for us. The country is utterly dependant upon electricity. The intertie system is our biggest vulnerability and hence the argument for a smart grid. I am concerned about who could turn the switch off for whatever reason. Remember the rolling blackouts California had? Smart grid infers one big on/off switch.
        Paranoia, no. I don’t believe in conspiracies or government malice. But poor decisions and incompetence are fairly common.
        The big problem with GICs is replacing transformers. The biggest ones are made by Siemens in Germany and many of them require a year or more to construct if, big if, they have electrical power to make them. Now imagine if the solar flare hits mid-Atlantic Ocean. Europe and North America could lose the grid.
        The bidding on this transformer starts at $100 million.  Sold to the highest bidder with good credit. Oops, maybe we shoulda paid our loans down.

      6. FEAR MONGERING: To implement State-Of-The-Art body imaging scanners ( will damage your thyroid glands), Patriot Act, and Internet Kill Switch (restructure the entire internet infrastructure.) , etc…
        Lately everything must be done now and rebuilt from the start and perhaps before the 2012 election? I guess they can’t replace the transformers which they have been doing for decades, perhaps since the beginning of 19th century; and now where are we in the 21th century!…
        To counter the threats and if that ever happens which it did in the past, the year 1921, they could isolate the area that was knocked out.. And obviously guided by the design engineer through the process to the final shielding design step.
        Different types of magnetic shields were designed for certain projects and the magnetic shielding must be done during the design process and at  the time of installation.  That is a must!!!!

        Would you let someone who you don’t trust replace your home locks, for your entire house?

        Do we trust the people who are using “fear mongering” tactics to change the entire U.S. defense electronic security system???  A very scary thought.

      7. This article makes it seem as though these transformers are already shielded. Thats the only way they could come through unscathed – active or not. they have to be shielded or placed into a Faraday cage. Thats the whole problem with CMEs – they are effectively EMPs and charge the atmosphere and any and all electronics in the area – connected or not.

      8. Hmm… The gubmint will shut down the grid to protect it from a CME?  Really?  What kind of loss of life will be incurred if power goes down without warning across the country?  Traffic accidents alone would be horrendous.  Will the gubmint risk creating such mayhem to avoid the greater mayhem of a grid meltdown?  Will they be able to convince the relatives of those who died that “it had to be done?”  They’d have to be really, REALLY sure that a long-term grid-down was inevitable before they’d force a temporary one.  Even still, it would take the kind of courage they rarely exhibit.

      9. So…would this plan they have protect our cars and electronic devices- things like computers, appliances,etc?

      10. What a joke.     The U.S. government would like to use this solar flare bullshit as a cover to create a massive EMP event on U.S. soil.  You know, like control the restless masses who are pissed off at Barry and Ben.  Barry will get his revenge for the ass kicking his suck up cronies got last week at the polls, just wait.  He’s a eloquent yet vindictive sort of sociopath  Wake up.

      11. Seems to be some confusion here. GICs don’t target the transformers. The wavelengths at which these currents propagate is way to long to bother transformers or phase correction reactors. The problem is the powerline lengths acting as enormous antennas and the induced current travels wherever the powerline goes. The key is disconnecting the grid into smaller lengths before the CME (Coronal Mass Ejection)  induces the GICs.
        Homes and the electronics within the home are fairly protected by flipping the switch at your power disconnect box. Landline telephones are usually fairly safe where the lines are buried deep. Cell phone coverage is at risk only at the cell sites because of the connection to the powerlines.
        Just to put this in perspective, consider GICs to be effectively the same as everything within the affect zone having experienced a lightning strike real close.  Massive GICs have happened before with not so pleasant results. This is absolute proof that it can and does happen.
        Jane brought up magnetic shielding. The GICs are amperage and voltages NOT a magnetic flux.  Move a coil within a magnetic field and you have a generator. The ionosphere is the coil and earth’s magnetic field is the magnet. We live within a magnetic and electric field everyday since the dawn of life. No problem. The problem is when the CME increases the ionospheric currents increase dramatically. These increase the coupled currents already existing on earth. To high and transformer windings can’t handle the increased current. A given size wire can only handle so much current and NO MORE.

        This isn’t about fear-mongering. Those of us trained in electronic and electrical technology have known about this for many decades. It is only now that we are developing the technology to protect the electrical grid.

        The transformer issue. Just how many spares are there? The small ones you see on powerpoles, each electric company has a few. The problem is the big ones such as sub-stations and major distribution stations. The several hundred ton monsters are way too expensive to put several in the back room for spares. They rarely fail, but when they do, the electric company buys one of the precious spares located somewhere else on the globe.  If we lose 10 of these, we are screwed. More importantly, how will they get transported? The trailers for hauling these are few and far between and the tractors need fuel. No electricity, no pumping fuel. These tractors might get 2 MPH under load. Say 200 gallons fuel, 400 mile range.

        During the 1989 CME event, several small areas with generating capacity had someone in charge smart enough to disconnect from the intertie. NO damage and they maintained power. Those areas that failed to disconnect went down. Fortunately the ’89 event was minor and we didn’t have widespread transformer damage.
        Our vulnerability is much greater now. Electric usage is way up compared to ’89 and so much of our technology/industry is computer controlled. We have become addicted to cell phones and many homes no longer have a landline telephone.
        Every solar max brings this threat. We now have the satellite coverage to detect these events with 2 days lead time before they might hit. We also have roughly 30 minutes lead to determine if and where it will hit. Kudos to NASA. So dirt cheap for so much return on investment. BTW NASA’s budget is soooo tiny. See for yourself.
        The mechanism of injury to the socio-economic stability of our nation isn’t near as important as the injury itself. The trick is to prepare for the inevitable injury.

      12. @Hillary – Your cars are most likely fine.  Maybe the all electric cars might have issues.  The tires insulate the vehicle and their electronics are slightly shielded.  At least on my Ranger (stock).

      13. Im not so sure about the newer cars, I feel that any that have an on board computer will be affected in some way.
        One thing always told when ever welding on a vehicle that has an on board PCM or OBD type of operating system , Is to un plug it, or disconnect the battery.
        But..I dont think your car is going to become a big prioraty in a total grid down situation, where ya going to go? and where you getting fuel? Let alone being safe out there driving.
        Now in order to get back home? that might  not be possible, at least not driving even a vehicle that could make the trip.
        You might be best to have a Bug Out Bag in your vehicle in case you will have to hoof it on foot. At least as a contingenccy plan.

      14. Magnetic shielding has been used since electricity was invented.  As said previously, magnetic shield design is used in every project; the purpose is to generate opposing cancellation fields from electromagnetic induction.  The magnetic field reduction method is used to generate a shielding effect!!! (Transformer is used as an electrical device to control and transfer electrical energy.)


        People constantly complain the Ruling Elites tricked our government into using the Patriot Act and continue increasing invasion of people’s privacy in the name of (deceitful) security – using such as:  body scanners, internet control, GPS, listen to ppl conversation).

        Using our military technology (which paid for by people’s tax dollars) to track down American people. Are the elites afraid of loosing power??? Or want to control every aspect of people’s lives? Or BOTH? 

         The final shielding design depends on several critical factors.  Since electricity was invented, the advanced shielding technology has been successfully applied in both military and all industries (wireless communication, Aircraft, weapon system GPS and space shuttle…..) for centuries.

      15. Constantly using FEAR MONGERING TACTICS to get our government and Republicans to give in or else disaster will come.

        But it will come any way; at least the elites do not have a full control and the little guys have a chance to survive.

      16. Oh yes mushroom that’s just what we need. Let’s also obliterate that pesky Constitution. Free speech is a nuisance for our bankers and leaders. Equally obsolete is the 4th amendment. It actually impedes the governments ability to stop all sedition. In these times of muslim aggression we need to incarcerate anyone who the government declares an “enemy of the state.” Further we need to relinquish our sovereignty to Israel. After all they know more about terrorism than any other glorious country. They are the “chosen people” and we need to recognize our status as servants to them. A strict code of genocide should also be implemented for those who refuse to recognize the “master race of Jews.”  If you don’t work for the “chosen ones” then immediate death must be the penalty. In fact retirement should usher in a death sentence for these now useless goyim. Death to all who refuse to bow down the the Jewish masters.

      17. missle launch?
        a possible dry run??
        off the coast of Cali??

        a Nuke detonation at 60,000′ could black out this entire country..
        was this a warning?
        or was it our government , flexing its muscle?

      18. @VRF – I’ve welded on cars without disconnecting the battery or any computers.  Its perfectly fine even right near it.  The whole vehicle is grounded (different story if its up in the air I suppose).  The right wavelength might get through some vehicles but only a few.

        A nuclear device detonated at 60,000′ wouldn’t black out even half the country.  At best 1/8 to 1/4.  It’s as far as the eye can see at that altitude.  No, a more effective height would be over 120,000 feet.  At that altitude over half the country is easily visible and cascading blackouts would take out a large part of the grid, if not most of it.

        But lets not kid ourselves.  Our electrical grid is so vulnerable to attack, 40-60 terrorists could send most of the country into darkness easily if they really wanted too.  I’ve never seen a guarded substation in my life.  I’ve worked at a few for BC Hydro in Canada and a few in Washington state.  Once, out of a dozen or so times was I asked for ID.  The chain link fence is going to stop anyone?  No.  Take out 10-20 large transformers up and down the East coast while grounding out some high tension lines would be easy enough and likely not even cost them lives if they remote detonated the bombs.  This is not earth shattering news or even unknown. 

        It really makes me question how real these terrorists are.  Also if all the intrusions into my life and liberty are really worth it.  I don’t feel safer flying today then before 9/11.  With the number of security breaches the same or higher, why would I?

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