The threat of an internet apocalypse has been looming for a while—but now the danger may become a reality. Scientists predict that an internet apocalypse could happen within the next decade and will affect our access to the internet for months and potentially even years.
What Will Be the Cause?
Scientists predict that solar storms will cause this global internet outage. Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, a researcher at the University of California, Irvine, was the first to broach the possibility in her 2021 article, “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse.” Jyothi predicts that there is a 1.6% to 12% chance of this global outage occurring within the next 10 years.
NASA has taken measures to observe and monitor solar winds through the use of its Parker Solar Probe (PSP). When scientists examine the information gathered from the solar winds, they will be able to see the extent to which communication has been affected, as well as whether it is possible to prevent a future widespread internet outage.
How Will PSP Help Scientists Predict an Internet Outage?
Every 11 years, the sun reaches the peak of its activity cycle. During this time, bursts of solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) spew particles and electromagnetic radiation. CMEs also create geomagnetic storms that damage satellites.
PSP was created in 2018 at the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. The probe was created in order to observe the outer layer of the sun and was the first spacecraft to enter the low solar corona. PSP has managed to travel within 3.86 million miles of the sun, and it will be integral in continued research regarding solar winds and preventative measures against global internet outages.
The threat of losing internet usage for an extended period of time is more than just a danger to businesses and communication. Many people rely on their computers and phones for access to resources. People will be forced to change how they access food, transportation, GPS services, and more.
Currently, NASA is using the data from PSPs to determine how they can prevent communications from crashing.