WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Aeronautic Space Administration detected a coronal mass ejection on the surface of the sun at 11:08 P.M. EST Tuesday night, NASA’s Deputy Administrator Greta Johansen said during a press conference at 12:30 A.M. Wednesday morning. Calling it the “largest in recorded history,” Johansen said the ejection, a tremendous eruption of gas and magnetic energy, was immediately followed by the release of a massive solar flare. “This will directly impact earth in less than seventy-two hours,” Johansen said. “We are facing an extinction-level event.”
NASA is working in conjunction with several foreign space agencies, including those in China and Russia, to determine the exact point of impact. “Because of the sheer size of this enormous mass of energy, we’re dealing with an extraordinarily large impact zone ranging anywhere between four and five thousand miles,” said Dr. Kenneth Parcell, who heads NASA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. “At this time all we know is that it will impact earth somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere approximately twenty-one hundred miles north of the Equator.”
By NASA’s own estimate, six of the earth’s seven continents are at risk of taking a direct hit. “Solar flares have the ability to disrupt communication systems and its something that happens fairly often in our solar system,” said Dr. Parcell. “However, coupled with a coronal mass ejection, it’s a One-Two punch, it’s going to incinerate everything in its path.”
Both NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency have confirmed that the Southern Hemisphere is unlikely to sustain a direct hit but warned that regions in close proximity to the impact area “face the exponential risk of earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear fallout.” Australia, South Africa, and South America’s eastern coast are considered “safe zones” in that they are least likely to experience loss of life on an extinction level.
The White House has announced President Barack Obama will address the nation on all networks at 11:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time.