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April Fools Day NASA announcement: Huge eruption on Sun may affect GPS signals

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The April Fools Day NASA announcement regarding the recent problem at the International Space Station troubled many officials after it was revealed that one of two large coolant loops at the ISS had shut down, according to a April 1 report from NST. However, as explained by Josh Byerly, a NASA spokesman, the crew was never in danger.

Crews are still trying to find a solution to the problem and NASA released the following statement regarding the issue.

"Some non-critical systems have been powered down inside the Harmony node, the Kibo laboratory and the Columbus laboratory while the teams work to figure out what caused the valve to not function correctly and how to fix it," the statement read.

Meanwhile, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a study mission which will observe the Sun for over five years, has captured images of one of the most intense solar flares so far this year. As explained by the U.S. space agency, this phenomenon occurred on Saturday and was measured as X1 (X being the highest intensity on the scale).

This flash emitted extreme UV radiation, the type of radiation that ionizes the upper layers of our atmosphere. After the flare, scientists were advised to study its consequences. In this case, NASA has reported that this solar storm can't physically affect humans on the ground, but could affect communications systems Wednesday on Earth. Specifically, the ionizing action of the flare produced a rare "magnetic crochet."

Unlike geomagnetic disturbances coming days after a flare-a result of coronal mass ejections, the "magnetic crochet" occurs while the flare is in progress. Experts have noted that this phenomenon usually occurs during impulsive flares such as this one.

According to information the space agency posted on its website, the outbreak was described as X1, one of the strongest according to the classification system, which is divided into A, B , C, M and X, with the A's being softest, and X the strongest.

Although solar flares usually fail to pass through Earth's atmosphere, even when they are pretty intense, they still can disturb the environment where GPS signals travel.

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