May 25, 2005 The most intense burst of solar radiation in five decades accompanied a large solar flare on January 20. It shook space weather theory and highlighted the need for new forecasting techniques, according to several presentations at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting this week in New Orleans. Dr. Richard Nightingale of the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL) in Palo Alto, called upon his research into rotating sunspots to provide a piece of the puzzle. The solar flare, which occurred at 2 a.m. EST, tripped radiation monitors all over the planet and scrambled detectors on spacecraft. The shower of energetic protons came minutes after the first sign of the flare. This flare was an extreme example of the type of radiation storm that arrives too quickly to warn interplanetary astronauts.
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