Nobody's quite forgotten that a really big solar event can upset kit even as crude as a telegraph, so the US military is recruiting radio hams to help test its contingency plans.
The exercise will happen between November 8 and November 10 (US time), when operators will be asked to practice what to do before and after the Sun belches plasma and an electromagnetic field into space after a major coronal mass ejection (CME).
The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) is looking to the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) groups.
America's national association for amateur radio (ARRL) says the exercise will focus on developing the “interface with the greater amateur radio community”.
The exercise will simulate a radio blackout and infrastructure damage, starting with three hours of silence, after which stations will start coming back on air (and, as would be the case if such an event happened for real, demanding information as soon as they could talk).
The event will also let operators discuss what they can do to protect their radio kit ahead of a severe CME.
CMEs are common, but since Earth is small and space is big, most don't cause us any concern. However, the DoD says if Earth was in the path of a big enough CME, the effects could range from damage or destruction of satellites to disruption of terrestrial communications and electricity infrastructure.
The plasma released by the sun in CMEs heads our way at between 100 and 3,000 km/second. ®