Starlink Satellites Destroyed by Geomagnetic Storm

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Starlink satellites destroyed by solar storms have space enthusiasts worried. A solar storm has entirely destroyed dozens of satellites that SpaceX launched into orbit last week.

SpaceX and Starlink launch forty nine satellites on February 3, 2022. A passing geomagnetic storm caused software malfunctions and interfered with the satellite’s orbital systems. The increased drag on the satellites ultimately caused them to deorbit into the Earth’s atmosphere where they will be eventually be destroyed by the heat of reentry into the atmosphere.

Geomagnetic storms happens when the Sun creates a large burst of energy from events like solar flares. The bursts can create solar winds that impact Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere.

A solar flare that happened on January 30th, created a burst that traveled at around three million miles per hour until it reached Earth and caused the 40 satellites to malfunction.

This has proved to be a learning experience for Musk and the SpaceX team. To stay afloat financially, the company needs to keep launching satellites. The loss of nearly an entire launch of Starlink satellites represents millions of dollars of losses.

Astronomers expect solar activity to increase in the next few years. The Sun started a new 11-year solar cycle in December 2019 and is now ramping to a “solar maximum” estimated to peak in 2025.



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