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Solar storm buffets Earth
Posted: Fri, Jan 21, 2005, 7:04 AM ET (1204 GMT)
A powerful series of solar storms have struck the Earth in recent days, putting at least one spacecraft into a protective safe mode. The storms were triggered by eruptions from a large sunspot complex moving across the face of the Sun over the lasts several days. Those eruptions included a X7-class flare on Thursday, the strongest one seen in recent years. While the storms triggered by the flares are not as powerful as the ones that struck Earth in late 2003, the storm did lead spacecraft operators to put two instruments on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft into safe mode. Scientists said that the storms are likely not the cause of the failure of the Intelsat 804 satellite, which suffered a sudden power anomaly last Friday; that failure took place a few hours before the first flare was seen from this sunspot complex.
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