The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center is warning that solar X-flares could disrupt satellite communications systems next week, including GPS and ADS-B signals. A series of X-flares emanated from the sun this week, but Earth escaped the direct impact of the flares. Experts are concerned that next week’s flares could be more problematic.
X-flares are the most powerful, with the capability to harm satellites, communications systems and even power grids. In December 2006, powerful X-flares interfered with GPS signals. The most powerful X-flares were observed in 2003, when they overloaded the sensors used to measure their strength.
The Space Weather Prediction Center is monitoring the X-flare activity and will advise pilots and others susceptible to their effects should there be reason to fear disruption. Typically, the worst errors in GPS accuracy were inaccuracies of approximately 20 meters.