Last Minute Information about Solar Flare Averted Nuclear War in 1967

Last Minute Information about Solar Flare Averted Nuclear War in 1967

In 1967, amid the Cold War, America and Russia were engaged into a staring contest from different sides of the world, with each of them looking for a chance to make the other blink. Nuclear missiles were well equipped and all set to fire at moment's notice. The military in the US was on high alert, seeking the launch of some kind of surprise invasion or preemptive strike by Soviets. The moment finally arrived on May 23.

The Ballistic Missile Early Warning System of Air Force was a series of radar installations arranged worldwide to find out a Soviet missile launch. It was a kind of first line of defense that used to give military an advance notice of a probable attack so that they can get ready for a nuclear strike. In the Arctic, numerous radar installations all of a sudden and inexplicably went dark on May 23, 1967.

The US military thought that it was a move of the Soviets, who succeeded in disabling the Early Warning System. With war forthcoming, the Air Force started prepping aircraft embedded with nuclear weapons. However, the launch of the aircraft never took place as commanders got very important information at the last minute, averting full-scale nuclear war.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) recently established Solar Forecasting Center had given them the last minute information. Some days back, it had found a huge solar storm, one of the biggest over the hundred years. The storm generated solar flares and radio bursts, hitting communications worldwide, including the Early Warning System of the Air Force.

The Solar Forecasting Center released a bulletin cautioning that extreme solar flares were arriving, and the same bulletin reached a commanding officer well in time, averting action against the Soviets.

A report published in IBTIMES informed, "Almost half a century ago, a powerful solar storm disrupted radar and radio communications at the height of the Cold War. Had experts not monitored the sun's activity at the time, the United States could have ended up with a disastrous military conflict, leading to a nuclear war between the U. S. and the Soviet Union, a new study revealed."

"Had it not been for the fact that we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting, the impact [of the storm] likely would have been much greater," Delores Knipp, a space physicist at the University of Colorado in Boulder and the lead author of the study, said in a statement. "This was a lesson learned in how important it is to be prepared."

Solar flares or storms are powerful bursts of radiation observed over the sun's surface. The flares eject clouds of electrons, ions and atoms through the corona of the sun into space, which typically reach Earth a day or two after the event.

According to a report in Popular Mechanics by Avery Thompson, "The Air Force's Ballistic Missile Early Warning System was a series of radar installations arrayed around the world to detect a Soviet missile launch. It was the first line of defense, giving the military as much advance notice as possible to prepare for a nuclear strike."

The U. S. military believed the Soviets had managed to disable the Early Warning System. With war imminent, the Air Force began prepping aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons. However, those aircraft never launched, as commanders received crucial information at the last minute that may have averted full-scale nuclear war.

Fortunately for the world, those planes weren't launched and nuclear missiles were never fired. But this near-miss underscores the importance of preparing for solar storms. Today, a significant portion of our communications rely on satellites, which can easily be disrupted by a strong solar storm. An extremely powerful storm could even cripple the entire power grid, leaving millions of people without power for weeks or months.


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