What Are The Radiation Belts?

NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probe (RBSP) satellites, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Friday, August 24* at 4:08 a.m. ET, will enter into an eccentric orbit around our planet, repeatedly passing through both of the Van Allen radiation belts that surround Earth like enormous high-intensity particle filled inner tubes. The plasma contained within these belts can affect satellites, spacecraft and communication here on Earth, and are affected in turn by outbursts of solar energy from the Sun — especially during periods of solar maximum. But how do these invisible yet powerful radiation belts actually work, and how will two six-foot-wide satellites help us learn more about them? Watch the video.

(And then read more here.)

Video: NASA

*UPDATE: After several delays due to weather and technical issues, the RBSP mission successfully launched on Thursday, August 30.

Jason Major

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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