A small satellite built by a group of students from the University of Alberta will collect valuable information that will one day prevent the damage caused by solar flares.
AlbertaSat, no bigger than a bread box, will measure the weather in space. It will be officially launched from the International Space Station at the end of the month.
Charles Nokes, a master’s student in astrophysics at the University of Alberta who has been working on the project for four years now, says that the small satellite will measure the interactions between the sun’s energy and the ionosphere, the atmospheric layer Outside the Earth.
Solar flares, which are the cause of the aurora borealis, can cause damage to electrical and electronic equipment.
March 13: a solar flare that made history
On March 13, 1989, a solar eruption caused an electromagnetic storm that paralyzed much of Hydro-Québec’s network: more than six million customers were deprived of electricity.
“The energy deployed by a solar flare is so powerful that it can penetrate into the ground and since our infrastructure is connected to the electricity grid, the impact can be significant,” explains the young researcher of the University of Alberta.
In all, nearly 15 countries are involved in the project, which will last from 9 to 15 months.
A dozen researchers from the University of Alberta will travel to Florida to launch the satellite.