Effects of Solar Flare Activity on GPS Satellite Timing Sources

Edith Szarkowski

Abstract: This study investigated the effects of solar flare activity using a baseline during solar minimum from July 2019 through December 2019 to determine a threshold and then assessing the impacts during the solar maximum period from January 2022 through May 2022 on Global Positioning System (GPS) timing sources. GPS satellite data received at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was collected and overlaid with the solar activity archive data from SpaceWeatherLive.com to determine whether any correlation existed to showcase effects of solar flare activity on GPS satellite timing sources. Focus of the resulting data was on M-class and X-class flares due to the severity based on prior research papers on the topic. The resulting data analysis of the datasets indicates that each flare class not only impacted the GPS satellite offset value in nanoseconds, but that after each M-class and X-class flare, it was determined that GPS offset value in nanoseconds remains high for several days after the event. Given that the sun is entering solar maximum, more research is needed to better understand the impacts of higher-class solar events on GPS satellite technology (i.e., timing, navigation, etc.) to ensure systems are better protected before events occur especially upon a direct impact from a solar flare.
Published in: Proceedings of the 54th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
January 23 - 26, 2023
Hyatt Regency Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Pages: 48 - 54
Cite this article: Szarkowski, Edith, "Effects of Solar Flare Activity on GPS Satellite Timing Sources," Proceedings of the 54th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Long Beach, California, January 2023, pp. 48-54. https://doi.org/10.33012/2023.18700
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