The sun, not the Soviets, was a provocateur during a little-known Cold War event, a new study reveals.
A solar storm of historic proportions in May 1967 interfered with American radar installations and raised tensions, leading to aircraft being prepared for launch, according to the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The AGU is the publisher of the journal Space Weather, which will feature the study.
The solar storm was so powerful it disturbed Ballistic Missile Early Warning System sites in Alaska, Greenland, and the U.K. on May 23, 1967. According to the study, this was seen as the system being jammed.
Experts from the University of Colorado, Boulder, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Baylor University, and Boston College contributed to study, as well as retired Air Force personnel. The former Air Force officers describe the event publicly for the first time in the paper.
The powerful solar storm was, the study says, “a near trip-wire in the tense political and military landscape of the time.”
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