Due to the threats posed by solar storms, NASA and the U.K. Space Agency (UKSA) have teamed up to develop a forecast system to protect Earth and astronauts from the Sun’s dangerous emissions. According to the space agencies, the system will be designed to provide early warnings about deadly cosmic weather patterns.

Solar storms can affect the functions of satellites and other ground-based technology, causing disruptions in communication and electrical capabilities. In certain cases, severe space weather can also disturb the Earth’s magnetic field.

In order to prevent these from happening, the UKSA partnered with NASA to develop a sophisticated forecast system that will monitor extreme solar activity such as magnetized plasma emitted by the Sun.

The project, which also involves the European Space Agency and U.S.’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to develop a plasma analyzer. The creation of the instrument will be spearheaded by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of the University College London, Independent reported.

Once the analyzer has been completed, it will be sent to space to monitor weather anomalies caused by the Sun. From its location, the instrument will act as an early warning device to alert the space agencies about incoming solar storms.

“Space weather has the potential to cause severe disruption to critical satellite and ground-based infrastructure, so it’s essential that we take steps to mitigate this threat through improving our ability to forecast extreme solar activity,” UKSA CEO Graham Turnock said in a statement.

In 2012, Earth was almost hit by a solar storm that would have caused world-wide damage to electrical equipment. Fortunately, due to the varying rotations of the Earth and Sun, the storm narrowly missed the planet. Instead, the storm hit a solar observatory spacecraft known as STEREO-A.

According to experts at NASA, if the solar eruption on the Sun happened a few days earlier, Earth would have taken a direct hit, causing unimaginable damage to the world’s electrical and communication technologies. The space agency noted that if the solar storm of 2012 made direct contact with Earth, it would have taken years before electrical and communication capabilities get restored.

Solar flare
Study suggests sun's activity was far more intense before planets formed. Pictured, an image showing the bright light of a solar flare on the left side of the sun and an eruption of solar material shooting through the its atmosphere, called a prominence eruption. NASA/SDO