But how much longer ACE will last is anyone's guess.
"It would be a very bad day for us if that spacecraft was not working," William Murtagh, program coordinator for NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., told Discovery News.
"When an eruption occurs on the sun, there are still quite a few question marks as to if it's going to hit the Earth and when it's going to hit the Earth," Murtagh said.
Until the sun's free-flying and highly energetic outbursts, known as coronal mass ejections, hit the ACE spacecraft, forecasters don't know the orientation of their embedded magnetic fields. Depending on the polarity, or alignment, Earth's magnetic shield will either peel away, giving the highly charged particles more freedom to disturb electrically sensitive equipment and communications, or rebuff the particles, such as what happened during this week's outburst.
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Stationed about 1 million miles from Earth, ACE provides early warning of what's headed toward Earth. NOAA says more than 22,000 utility operators, airlines, satellite owners, GPS users and others are signed up to receive space weather alerts and millions more get the information on NOAA's website.