The European Space Agency plans to launch an solar orbiter probe in 2020 to monitor the Sun for solar storms that could wipe out communications on earth and knock out power grids.
“A major solar storm could kill astronauts in space, and could knock out GPS, and can knock out all of our satellite communication, so it is something we do have to keep an eye on,” says Dr. Patricia Reiff, professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University.
Even an intermediate solar storm can wreak havoc on our electronics on Earth.
Your GPS might not be knocked out, but it might be inaccurate by 30, 50 feet or more, maybe 30 meters, and if you're doing directionaly drilling or trying to land an airplane it makes a big difference.”
The largest solar storm ever recorded was "The Carrington Event" back in 1859.
“It put so much current through the telegraph wires that certain telegraph houses actually burned, the paper they were writing on burned because of the tremendous electrical currents that were induces,” says Reiff.