UK under threat of space attacks, MPs warn
In a report published today by the Defence Committee, the government has been urged to take the ‘electromagnetic events’ in space and the possibilities of nuclear attack via space more seriously, as it could damage the power supply in the UK.
MPs have acknowledged that they have been aware of the effects of such an event for a long time, but despite their awareness the threat has not been taken as seriously as it should be.
In the wake of nuclear weapons throughout the world, the report revealed that if one were to be detonated between 25-500 miles above the Earth, a high density electrical field called “Electromagnetic pulse” (EMP) would be created that could severely damage technologies over a wide geographical area.
In the report, the Committee warned: ‘The potential impact of such a weapon could be devastating and long-lasting for UK infrastructure. It is therefore vitally important that the work of hardening UK infrastructure is begun now and carried out as a matter of urgency.’
Although the probability of a nuclear attack from another country is considered to be low, the threat might still be possible if Iran were to continue its nuclear programme.
The space weather – as a result of solar activity – is expected to occur within the next five years causing ‘damage to electrically conducting systems such as power grids, pipelines and signalling circuits’, the reports warned. The outcome of such an event would be reminiscent of the Carrington Event, the largest ever recorded space weather in September 1859, but with greater damage.
The Carrington Event was so strong that the solar flare could be witnessed with the naked eye. According to the report, ‘the huge coronal mass ejection (CME) that followed induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph systems, causing shocks to telegraph operators and setting fire to paper’. The report goes on to mention that the impact led the auroras, to be observed as far south as Hawaii and the Caribbean when normally it is limited to polar regions.
The new solar activity has the potential to cause damage to electrically conducting systems such as power grids, pipelines and signalling circuits causing economical damage worth $1-2 trillion according to US National Research Council.