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Smartphone signal working? Here's how scientists keep us online

Solar flares and matter released through this kind of activity, can have a negative effect on technological systems like the internet, GPS, electricity supply and mobile phones.

Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - While we're warned about potential flash floods, cold weather and even the occasional tornado, a group of dedicated scientists are watching the weather patterns slightly further afield to ensure our cellphones, TV signals and other creature comforts aren’t disrupted.

They work at the Space Weather Regional Warning Centre for Africa based in Hermanus.

Much like the earth experiences extremes like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes, the vacuum of space also has to deal with extreme weather.

Dynamics of space weather conditions are set by the sun and they happen on a grand scale.

Solar flares and matter released through this kind of activity, can have a negative effect on technological systems like the internet, GPS, electricity supply and mobile phones.

Space Weather practitioner, Mpho Tshisaphungo, said watching the weather outside our atmosphere was vital to keeping the world we're used to moving along smoothly.

“We are looking at the space weather impact on four different things: high-frequency communications, on satellite comms, navigation and surveillance and then the last one is radiation because all these are important for the aviation industry.”

Tshisaphungo was one of the teams that work at the Hermanus station in a unit that's housed within the South African National Space Agency.

Information at the facility was received on plasma screens with real-time visuals of solar activities which were used to compile space weather reports.

Watch the space: How space weather impacts the 4th industrial revolution

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