By | 31 Jul 2022 at 1:52 AM

Solar cycle 25, the current solar cycle, began in December 2019. NASA has warned that solar events like flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will continue to increase as we near solar maximum – the peak of the Sun’s natural 11-year cycle – in 2025, and our lives and technology on Earth, as well as satellites and astronauts in space, will be impacted.

During its 11-year cycle, the Sun shifts from relatively calm to stormy, then back again. During solar maximum – the period when the Sun is most active – the Sun is freckled with sunspots and its magnetic poles reverse. During solar minimum, on the other hand, sunspots are few and far between.

While Solar Cycle 25 is forecast to be a fairly weak cycle, the same strength as cycle 24, the Sun has been much more active this cycle than anticipated. “With more activity comes an increase in space weather events including solar flares and solar eruptions, which can impact radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals, as well as pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts,” NASA said.

NASA’s future Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) mission will provide the first coordinated global-scale observations of the dynamic and complex region of space enveloping Earth – called the ionosphere and thermosphere (I-T) region, where the effects of solar activity are often seen. Planned for launch no earlier than September 2027, the mission will help better mitigate space weather impacts on critical infrastructure.

During Solar Cycle 26, the GDC mission will be able to provide valuable insight that isn’t available during this solar maximum, NASA said in a statement.