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Beware! Geomagnetic storm set to hit Earth; may affect satellites, electricity grids – HT Tech

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After the solar storm, here comes the solar wind! Over the past couple of weeks, reports have detailed the devastating impact that solar storms or coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can have on the Internet infrastructure on Earth. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Sunday, that is, September 26. A geomagnetic storm is set to hit the Earth. The US government’s space weather tracking body has warned the public about the possibility of a of G1 or G2-level storm.

For the uninitiated, a geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is an exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere. According to SWPC, the largest storms that result from these conditions are associated with solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) where a billion tons or so of plasma from the sun, with its embedded magnetic field, is shot outwards and it get directed at Earth.

SWPC has cautioned that the area of impact could primarily be poleward of 60 degrees geomagnetic latitude, which could cause power grid fluctuations and have a minor impact on satellites. In addition to this, SWPC said that the geomagnetic storm might cause aurora that might be visible at high latitudes, that is, the northern tier of the US such as northern Michigan and Maine.

Before you panic, G1 and G2 are Minor and Moderate level storms, which means that they are expected to cause significantly less damage than anticipated. While geomagnetic storms can cause weak power grid fluctuations, a G2 level storm can cause voltage alarms and transformer damage in high-latitude power systems. As far as spacecraft operations are concerned, while a G1 level storm can cause a minor impact on satellite operations, G2 level storm can cause issues to satellite systems that may require corrective actions to orientation.

As per a WeatherBoy report, a previous report by the Space Weather Forecast Discussion by SWPC had warned of the possibility of G2 level storm. “Isolated G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storming is likely 26 September as a positive polarity CH HSS extension from the Northern crown becomes geoeffective,” the report had said.

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Australia must commit to carbon cuts to keep green energy advantage -Fortescue’s Forrest

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Australia risks losing its advantage in the green energy revolution if its leaders don’t promptly commit to cutting carbon emissions by 2050, the country’s richest man, Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest said on Monday.

Forrest, who grew Fortescue from a minnow to rival the world’s biggest mining giants in less than two decades, has spearheaded his company’s global green energy drive, signing deals from Brazil to Indonesia to Democratic Republic of Congo.

The company aims to build a 250 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser at Bell Bay in Tasmania — 25 times the size of the biggest existing electrolysers in the world — for less than A$1 billion ($740 million), Forrest said, putting a price on the project for the first time.

Fortescue is ready to make a final investment decision this year, as promised, but is waiting for support from the state government before going ahead with the project.

While Forrest told Reuters that Australia is the best place to realise his green vision, the country’s failure to commit to a policy to cut emissions is risking that advantage.

“I would say 2050 neutrality is a certainty for Australia. If we support it by COP26 the dividend flow to regional Australia will be substantial. If we don’t support it by COP26, the future will remain uncertain,” Forrest said, referring to the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of October.

“The renewable energy, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green electricity industry is very, very mobile,” he said.

“It is where the will is strongest – they will be the first to be developed.”

Australia’s energy policy is again in the spotlight as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to attend the conference, where global leaders will meet to set further climate goals to follow on from the landmark 2015 Paris accord.

But Morrison is short on updated climate ambitions to bring to the table given his reliance on the junior partner in Australia’s coalition government which said it would not be rushed into a decision on whether to support a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

The Nationals who represent coal and farming heartlands worry that stronger emissions targets will cost jobs. Coal is the country’s second biggest export earner.

But Forrest, speaking to Reuters from London, said that rural Australians were set to be the biggest winners in the move to green energy – if agreements are made in time.

“I have demonstrated investment into the regions despite the fact Australia is dragging the chain,” Forrest told Reuters.

Fortescue is investigating the potential to convert top Australian fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot’s Brisbane ammonia plant to use green hydrogen as a feedstock instead of natural gas, with an on-site electrolysis plant that will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year.

The plant’s future had been under threat due to soaring gas prices, however setting up a green hydrogen production site to feed the existing plant could save 400 jobs and create many more, Forrest said.

At the same time, the product from the plant will be cheaper for local farmers.

“So farmers in Australia long into the future can plan for the next season, or even for the next generation … knowing that fertilisers are coming from a hydrogen molecule that is infinite,” Forrest said.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Sonali Paul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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Russian filmmakers back on Earth after shoot aboard space station – World News – Castanet.net

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A Soyuz space capsule carrying a cosmonaut and two Russian filmmakers has landed after a 3 1/2-hour trip from the International Space Station.

The capsule, descending under a red-and-white striped parachute after entering Earth’s atmosphere, landed upright in the steppes of Kazakhstan on schedule Sunday with Oleg Novitskiy, Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko aboard.

Actress Peresild and film director Shipenko rocketed to the space station on Oct. 5 for a 12-day stint to film segments of a movie titled “Challenge,” in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit. Novitskiy, who spent more than six months aboard the space station, is to star as the ailing cosmonaut in the movie.

After the landing, which sent plumes of dust flying high in the air, ground crews extracted the three space flyers from the capsule and placed them in seats set up nearby as they adjusted to the pull of gravity. They were then taken to a medical tent for examination.

All appeared healthy and cheerful. Peresild smiled and held a large bouquet of white flowers as journalists clustered around her. But she said she also felt a touch of melancholy.

“I’m feeling a bit sad today. It seemed that 12 days would be a lot, but I did not want to leave when everything was over,” Peresild said on state TV.

The transfer to the medical tent was delayed for about 10 minutes while crews filmed several takes of Peresild and Novitskiy in their seats, which are to be included in the movie. More scenes remain to be shot on Earth for the film whose release date is uncertain.

Seven astronauts remain aboard the space station: Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov; Americans Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency; and Japan’s Aki Hoshide.

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$10bn James Webb Space Telescope unpacked in Kourou – BBC News

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ESA/CNES/Arianespace/P.Piron

Engineers have unboxed the James Webb Space Telescope in French Guiana and will now prepare it for launch.

The $10bn successor to the Hubble observatory arrived at Europe’s Kourou spaceport five days ago after being shipped from the US.

It’s now been relieved of its transport container and raised into the vertical to allow preflight checks to begin.

JWST is one of the grand scientific projects of the 21st Century and will ride to orbit on 18 December.

Webb

ESA/CNES/Arianespace/P.Piron

An Ariane-5 rocket will throw the telescope out to an observing position about 1.5 million km from Earth.

From there, it will look deeper into the cosmos – and thus further back in time – than is possible with Hubble.

It will do this with a much bigger mirror (6.5m in diameter versus 2.4m) and instruments that are tuned to the infrared.

Scientists hope this set-up can detect the light from the very first population of stars in the Universe to switch on more than 13.5 billion years ago.

Annotated view of James Webb

JWST is a joint venture between the US (Nasa), European (Esa) and Canadian space agencies (CSA).

It’s taken more than three decades from the original conception to get to this point.

Final assembly and testing was completed in August at the Northrop Grumman factory in Redondo Beach, California, after which the telescope was made ready for a 16-day, 2,500km journey by sea to French Guiana, a trip that took the observatory through the Panama Canal.

Size of mirror

Teams at Europe’s spaceport will first inspect JWST to confirm no damage was picked up in transit. The telescope will then be fuelled and mated to the Ariane 5.

Recent weeks have seen cargo planes arrive in French Guiana with the tools and support equipment needed to work on Webb over the coming weeks.

A key milestone in the preparations comes this Friday when another Ariane-5 is due to launch two communications satellites from Kourou. This has to take place to free up the launch table on which Webb’s rocket will be integrated.

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