NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Cold War solar storm caused nuclear panic in 1967

In 1967, the U.S. Air Force began prepping nuclear-equipped aircraft for launch after all three of their radar sites in Greenland, Alaska, and the United Kingdom were jammed at once, Popular Science reports. But the jam wasn’t an act of war from the Soviet Union—instead, a new paper in Space Weather explains that an exceptionally large solar storm that released extra magnetic energy and radiation was at fault. The Air Force never launched the ships, thanks to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, who informed them that the solar storm was interrupting communication systems all over the Northern Hemisphere and producing auroras as far south as New Mexico.

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