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The geomagnetic storm causing this event was itself the result of an ejection known as a on March 9, 1989. A few days before, on March 6, a very large X15-class also occurred. Three-and-a-half days later, at 2:44 on March 13, a severe geomagnetic storm struck. The storm began on Earth with extremely intense at the poles. The aurora could be seen as far south as and. As this occurred during the, an unknown number of people worried that a nuclear first strike might be in progress.
Others incorrectly considered the intense auroras to be associated with the Space Shuttle mission, which had been launched on March 13 at 9:57:00 AM. The burst caused short-wave radio interference, including the disruption of radio signals from into Russia. It was initially believed that the signals had been by the Soviet government. As midnight came and went, a river of charged particles and electrons in the ionosphere flowed from west to east, inducing powerful electrical currents in the ground that surged into many natural nooks and crannies. Some satellites in polar orbits lost control for several hours. communications were interrupted, causing weather images to be lost.
NASA\’s TDRS-1 communication satellite recorded over 250 anomalies caused by the increased particles flowing into its sensitive electronics. The Space Shuttle Discovery was having its own problems: a sensor on one of the tanks supplying hydrogen to a fuel cell was showing unusually high pressure readings on March 13. The problem went away after the solar storm subsided. Anecdotal evidence suggests that one of the UK\’s nuclear submarines noticed a variation in [. Because the files are still classified, this is not yet possible to confirm or deny.