NASA have revealed that they are working on an innovative new project which will, in part, help to prevent corrosion of steel pipes due to electromagnetic (EM) radiation from space.

The potential for steel pipes to become damaged is just one of the symptoms of geomagnetically induced currents (GICs), which are spontaneous electrical currents generated in conducting materials on Earth between one and three days after the Sun emits a coronal mass ejection (CME).

As much as ten billion tonnes of matter leaves the Sun during a CME, travelling to Earth at a speed of several million miles per hour.

When it hits the magnetosphere, EM fluctuations take place, creating electrical storms and threatening power supplies – such as in 1989, when more than six million people in Canada were left without power following such an event.

Now NASA are keeping their feet firmly on the ground, and are planning to use the US power grid to monitor GICs and work on ways to safeguard Earth-bound systems against this attack from the very heart of our solar system.

“This is the first time we have used the US high-voltage power transmission system as a science tool to map large-scale GICs,” says NASA heliophysicist Antti Pulkkinen.

“This application will allow unprecedented, game-changing data gathering over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.”