Geomagnetic storm causes problems for Starlink and farmers

Due to a geomagnetic storm, the aurora could be seen in Belgium last weekend. The storm also brought some problems.

Last weekend the Northern Lights could be seen in many places. Strange, because to observe this phenomenon you usually have to travel far north. However, the aurora is bad news for many technology companies, including Starlink. Their equipment experiences interference.

That has everything to do with the reason why the aurora was visible: a geomagnetic storm ensured that the green and purple glow was also visible further to the south. This produces beautiful photos, but can be disruptive to many technologies. Such a “geomagnetic storm” is the result of an overgrown storm solar storm, which ensures that magnetic particles reach Earth. These magnetic particles collide with the atmosphere and can disrupt a lot of technological equipment along the way.

Slow internet at Starlink

They have that Starlink marked. On Saturday evening, CEO Elon Musk warned that the Starlink equipment may work slightly less well. In it, the CEO immediately indicates that it was one of the heaviest solar storms “in a long time”.

For users, the impact of the solar storm seemed to be relatively minor. Many users on Reddit gathered who were experiencing problems with their Starlink internet, but the problems did not affect all users equally. One user reported slower download speeds and received a message from Starlink that performance might be sub-par. Another user notices that Starlink’s internet sometimes goes out. Those breakdowns would have lasted less than two seconds, making them barely noticeable.

Problems for agriculture

That doesn’t mean the problems went unnoticed. Farmers in particular experienced problems from the solar storm. Their tractors often use GPS signals to optimally plant fields. John Deere’s machinery, for example, uses such a system to ensure planting accuracy down to the centimeter. The solar storm threw a spanner in the works there, for which the company is concerned apologizes. It is now working on a solution to prevent problems in the future, although it considers this solar storm to be a “historic event” that does not happen often.