On March 10, 1989, an enormous solar flare blew up on the sun with the power of thousands of nuclear bombs exploding at the same time. Two days later, particles from the sun violently hit the Earth's upper atmosphere, messing with the charged particles in a layer called the ionosphere. The particles created a strong current in the sky, and the Earth created electrical current in the ground to rectify this.The disturbance caused by this storm was incredibly intense, per NASA. This surged the Quebec power grid, which was out of commission for eight long hours on a weekday morning, affecting about 6 million people.People were not able to go to work or take their kids to school, get out of elevators, or heat their homes. Planes were grounded at the local airport.The effect of the storm wasn't just local. Auroras were seen as far south as Florida and Cuba.New York City lost 150 megawatts of power. That's enough power for about 24,000 US homes.And radio interference jammed signals from Radio Free Europe into Russia. In the height of the cold war, this was a politically sensitive issue, because people believed it was the Kremlin jamming the signals, per NASA.Satellites also tumbled out of control during the event, per NASA.In February 2022, SpaceX announced that 40 of 49 Starlink satellites launched into orbit were knocked out of commission. The culprit? A massive solar storm caused by a solar eruption called a coronal mass ejection. According to SpaceX, the interaction between the solar particles and the particles in our Earth's atmosphere increased the drag of the satellites in the atmosphere. That caused 40 satellites to be pulled back down, and they burned up as they fell to the Earth.When solar flares knock out entire infrastructure or destroy satellites, it's relatively easy to draw a line back to the sun. But often the particles will cause something so small that it may even go unnoticed. Your computer might glitch unexpectedly, a cell phone signal might go dark for a bit, a dot on a GPS map might bug for a while. On occasion, something will happen that is so weird that a glitch caused by a stray solar particle is the only good explanation. This is called a single-event upset.This is what happened to Marie Moe, a cyber-security researcher. Moe felt her pacemaker glitch while on a plane to Amsterdam.The pacemaker was examined as she landed. Its data was found to be bizarrely corrupted, the BBC reported. Moe believed that solar flares caused the issue with her device. The problem with these single-event upsets is that they are impossible to prove, as the particles leave no measurable radiation behind.A single-event upset could potentially be disastrous if it happens in the wrong place at the wrong time. In 2008, a Qantas airline plane dipped hundreds of feet suddenly, twice in the span of 10 minutes, injuring several. An investigation found that, again, the plane's computer had been corrupted. Though we can never know for sure what happened, the investigation found it could not rule out that an ionized particle caused the malfunction, and all other causes were found to be very unlikely or unlikely, per the BBC.Single-event upsets can have far-reaching consequences. One political candidate's odds increased substantially in 2003 when they gathered 4,096 extra votes out in the Schaerbeek district in Brussels.The problem was that this was more votes than there were voters. It turned out the voting machine had been corrupted.The theory is that the sun decided to weigh in on Belgium's political affairs. A solar flare likely flipped one single bit on the machine, adding the extra ghost votes to the record — though we can never know for sure if that's what happened.A gamer trying to get through the game Super Mario 64 as quickly as possible made history when he discovered an unprecedented glitch in the game.Out of nowhere, speedrunner DOTA_Teabag saw Mario make a teleport upwards that is supposed to be impossible, saving the gamer precious seconds. Gamers look for these glitches to beat the game, so a reward of $1,000 was offered to anyone who could figure out how to make this happen again. People who took up the challenge were unable to replicate the glitch, no matter what they tried. Eventually, it was the person who set the bounty, pannenkoek12, who figured it out, per thegamer.com.He suggested that a single-event upset likely flipped one bit from 11000101 to 11000100, which told the game that Mario could jump up much higher than he should be able to do. Though he admits, it could also have been a hardware malfunction, he later told the BBC.In 1972, US military pilots flying south of Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam saw two dozen sea mines explode in the water, without apparent cause.This remained a mystery for over 45 years. But a 2018 study finally figured it out. By looking at space weather at the time, scientists from the University of Colorado, Boulder concluded that the most likely explanation was that a coronal mass ejection sent a massive solar storm towards Earth. Sea mines were designed to pick up magnetic fields created by passing ships and were likely confused by the surge of magnetic energy coming from the sun. By some measures, this solar storm would have been among the biggest in recorded history. Among NASA engineers, it is legendary because Apollo astronauts narrowly missed it. The storm hit between two missions — had they been in space, that amount of radiation coming from the sun could have been fatal.Written accounts from the sinking of the RMS Titanic, in 1912, say that an aurora was dancing in the sky above as passengers fled the giant ocean liner for lifeboats. Those colorful lights could indicate solar activity.Mila Zinkova, an independent weather researcher, described the theory in a paper published in 2020 in the Royal Meteorological Society's journal, Weather.Other experts told Insider that it's highly unlikely there was a solar storm wreaking enough havoc to cause the Titanic's crash. But solar activity could have hindered rescue efforts by interfering with radio communications after the shipwreck.That could explain why the nearby vessel La Provence never received the Titanic's SOS signal, and why the Titanic didn't receive the Mount Temple's response to its cries for help.The biggest-ever solar storm on record to hit the Earth happened in 1859. On that day, electrons coursed through telegraph wires all over Europe and North America, bursting with energy at anything that stopped them along the way. Wire operator's hands received sharp shocks, telegraph poles sparked, and telegram papers caught fire in offices around the nation. Skyes were streaked with red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight that reached all the way down to Hawaii, per NASA. Telegraphs were so charged with energy, powered by the magnetic energy that was making the auroras so brilliant, that operators could still send messages, even when they disconnected the batteries that power the system.Two telegraph operators continued talking for two hours after switching off their batteries, stating that the signal was better on auroral current than with the batteries. People were baffled, but luckily, astronomers had an explanation. Scientists had spotted an unusual number of sunspots on the surface of the sun. One astronomer, Richard Carrington, was observing those spots through a telescope when we saw two blinding flashes of light. He had just witnessed a huge solar flare that reached Earth just a day later.This event, later dubbed the Carrington event, is still the biggest solar storm to hit the Earth on record. Space weather was particularly hard on Canada in August 1989.Just months after the big Quebec blackout, financial markets in Toronto had to stop trading for three hours when a solar storm shorted three hard drives that were supposed to be fault-tolerant, New Scientist reported in 1989. Canadian scientists issued releases warning that personal computers could be malfunctioning in this time of rough space weather.A huge solar storm in 2005 hurled a billion-ton cloud of electrified gas toward the planet. As the particles hit the ionosphere, they messed with GPS signals, rendering them useless for about 10 minutes. This can sound a minor inconvenience, but a lot of our infrastructure relies on GPS — not least of which is planes. Space weather can ground flights, Mathew Owens, a professor of space physics at the University of Reading, previously told Insider. The Federal Aviation Administration, he said, won't allow flights if they don't have both radio and satellite communications.A 2023 study looking at flight records over 22 years found that planes were 21% more likely to be delayed by at least 30 minutes when the sun was very active.An enormous solar storm made its way to Earth on October 2003.Dubbed the Halloween storm of 2003, it was registered as a whopping X-28 class storm, with X class storms being the strongest, and the number afterward represents additional steps in strength, per NASA. The storm was so strong that controllers had to reroute planes, operators switched satellites to safe mode, affecting communications, and it also caused a power outage in Sweden for about an hour, said Dr. Holly Gilbert, a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, per NASA.Astronauts can be particularly vulnerable to solar storms. The Earth's magnetic field shields us from the worst effects of solar radiation, but when astronauts travel outside of our orbit, they are much more at risk.So far, astronauts have narrowly escaped the worst of the storms, purely by chance. Still, some have had very close calls. That is the case for the crew of the Atlantis, who was orbiting the Earth in 1989 when a solar storm hit the Earth. According to the book Storms From The Sun: The Emerging Science of Space Weather, the crew was ordered to shelter in the farthest interior of the shuttle. Some reported feeling their eyes burning as the radiation hit their retinas, per the Australian Broadcasting Company which reported on the book. Still, the crew emerged mostly unscathed, and had a rare chance to see beautiful auroras from space, The LA Times reported at the time. As NASA, SpaceX, and others gear up plans to return to the moon and Mars, though, the risks of solar flares to astronauts will need to be more seriously considered, said Owens. If you are trying to send a crew to the moon or Mars, you really need to worry about these things, because that is a serious, potentially fatal radiation dose, Owens said.Owens, the professor of astrophysics, said that if the 1989 Carrington event were to happen today, we'd be far more susceptible.With each decade, we become more dependent on electrical infrastructure, he said. And the sun has been particularly quiet in the past two decades, which may have lulled us into a false sense of security.It was the smallest we'd had for about a hundred years, Owens said, adding, The danger of going from a small cycle to a slightly bigger one is that you then realize where all the vulnerabilities are.We're starting to see some of the effects of these solar flares. The BBC reported that auroras were seen in the southern UK on Sunday night and that more were expected in the coming days.The sun itself might be erupting in more beautiful formations. NASA spotted a rare polar vortex this month.Still, we shouldn't be unduly worried. Physicists predict that this cycle will not be the biggest we've ever seen, and we're getting better at spotting storms to be able to prepare for them.