Archival data showed that the most dangerous space weather becomes at the end of odd and early even cycles of solar activity - and the next stormy period will begin in 2025.
Solar activity determines the state of the entire surrounding space. It changes the flux of particles and radiation, causes various geomagnetic effects in near-earth orbit, and so on. This "space weather" can affect the operation of satellites and create a serious threat to the health of astronauts and other threats - as once again recalled the work of scientists from the British University of Reading, published in the journal Solar Physics.
Mathew Owens and colleagues analyzed archival data on solar activity and the behavior of the Earth's global magnetic field over the past 150 years. As might be expected, they usually occur in the region of the maximum of the 11-year solar cycle, and the more powerful the cycle itself, the stronger. In addition, it turned out that powerful geomagnetic storms and other extreme manifestations of space weather are more often observed in the initial phase of solar cycles with an even number and in the final phase of cycles - with an odd one, similar to the one that began in 2019, for the 25th in the history of observations.
"These findings may affect NASA's Artemis mission, which plans to bring humans to the moon in 2024, although the flight may be delayed until the end of the 2020s," warn the authors of a press release issued by the University of Reading. "Upcoming missions may need to be accelerated to avoid a period of extreme space weather."
Indeed, judging by the new data, the most dangerous events are to be expected from about 2025 until the beginning of the 2030s, the first phase of the next 26th cycle. During this time, flights outside the Earth orbit will become especially hazardous to human health. Therefore, in theory, the developers of the Artemis project really should hurry up.
However, one should not forget that preparing such a manned mission is an extremely difficult and important task, which is already being implemented in great haste. Further accelerating it is in itself a risk of lives, perhaps even more than meeting the consequences of some storm on the Sun.