In 1998, 90% of pagers were disabled because of the Solar Flare.

In 1998, 90% of pagers were disabled because of the Solar Flare.

In 1998 there was a particularly powerful solar flare.

The flare caused auroras to be seen as far down as Boston, London and Chicago, forcing New England power companies to reconfigure their energy grids. High-frequency radio communication in Antarctica was also shut down for days as a result.

Effects of the flare were felt even after it was over. In the following weeks, many satellites failed, including the Equator-S satellite and four of Motorola's Iridium satellites, while the Polar satellite suffered blackouts.

The most famous failure was of the Galaxy IV communications satellite, handler of some 90 percent of U.S. pager transmissions and several television and radio feeds.

Galaxy IV's onboard control system and backup switch failed, proving to at least 40 million pager customers across the United States the fragility of satellite communications.

The company who owned the satellite denied that the solar flare caused the blackout, but some scientists disagreed.

One article referred to “killer electrons” that flooded the satellite and damaged its electronics. Since high-energy electron levels were far above normal for at least three weeks, the article stated, Galaxy IV slowly fried to death.



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