Van Allen Radiation Belts News

New Ways to Protect Telecommunication and Navigation Satellites

September 28, 2016

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New Research Resolves a Debate Over Killer Electrons in Space

An international team of scientists answer a fundamental question about our space environment and reveal new ways to protect telecommunication and navigation satellites. Using measurements from the first U.S. satellite that traveled to space, Explorer 1 physicist James Van Allen discovered in 1958 that space is radioactive. The Earth is surrounded by two doughnut-shaped rings […]

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Van Allen Probes View Supercharged Radiation Belt

August 16, 2016

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Van Allen Probes Catch Rare Glimpse of Supercharged Radiation Belt

New research details how a shockwave created by the driving force of a coronal mass ejection from the sun – struck the outermost radiation belt, triggering the greatest geomagnetic storm of the preceding decade. Our planet is nestled in the center of two immense, concentric doughnuts of powerful radiation: the Van Allen radiation belts, which […]

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NASA Probes Reveal the Changing Shape of the Van Allen Belts

January 19, 2016

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Van Allen Probes Revolutionize View of Radiation Belts

New research from NASA’s Van Allen Probes reveals that the shape of the Van Allen Belts can vary from a single, continuous belt with no slot region, to a larger inner belt with a smaller outer belt, to no inner belt at all. About 600 miles from Earth’s surface is the first of two donut-shaped […]

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NASA’s Van Allen Probes Capture the Effects of a Solar Shockwave

February 19, 2015

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Van Allen Probes Capture the Effects of a Solar Shockwave

NASA’s Van Allen Probes have captured the effects of a solar shockwave on Earth’s radiation from beginning to end for the first time. On October 8, 2013, an explosion on the sun’s surface sent a supersonic blast wave of solar wind out into space. This shockwave tore past Mercury and Venus, blitzing by the moon […]

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Van Allen Probes Reveal an Impenetrable Barrier in Space

December 1, 2014

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NASA Spots an Impenetrable Barrier in Space

Using NASA’s Van Allen Probes, new research reveals that the Van Allen radiation belts contain a nearly impenetrable barrier that prevents the fastest, most energetic electrons from reaching Earth. This movie shows how particles move through Earth’s radiation belts, the large donuts around Earth. The sphere in the middle shows a cloud of colder material […]

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New Hubblecast Video Explores the South Atlantic Anomaly

September 22, 2014

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Hubblecast 77 Video Hubble and the Bermuda Triangle of Space

This newly released six minute video details the mysterious region known as the South Atlantic Anomaly – an area where the Earth’s inner Van Allen radiation belt comes close to the Earth’s surface, increasing the flux of energetic particles and exposes orbiting satellites to higher-than-usual levels of radiation. Hubblecast 77: Hubble and the Bermuda Triangle […]

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New Observations Reveal How Electrons Accelerate in the Van Allen Radiation Belts

July 16, 2014

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Van Allen Probes Show How to Accelerate Electrons

Using new data from the Van Allen Probes, a newly published study reveals the first direct observation of two processes that, in a chain, cause the acceleration of electrons in Earth’s outer radiation belt. One of the great, unanswered questions for space weather scientists is just what creates two gigantic donuts of radiation surrounding Earth, […]

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Van Allen Probes Reveal ‘Zebra Stripes’ in Earth’s Inner Radiation Belt

March 20, 2014

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Van Allen Probes Reveal a Pattern that Resembles Slanted Zebra Stripes in Space

In a newly published study, NASA’s Van Allen Probes reveal that a persistent pattern of high-energy electrons in the inner radiation belt, which resembles slanted zebra stripes, are caused by the rotation of Earth. Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft […]

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Scientists Explain the Formation of the Unusual Third Van Allen Radiation Ring

September 23, 2013

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Scientists Explain the Formation of Third Radiation Ring

UCLA scientists explain the formation of an unusual third radiation ring that briefly appeared between the inner and outer Van Allen radiation belts in September 2012 and persisted for a month. Since the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts in 1958, space scientists have believed these belts encircling the Earth consist of two doughnut-shaped […]

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NASA Probes Reveal Source of Particle Acceleration in Van Allen Radiation Belts

July 26, 2013

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Van Allen Probes Discover Particle Accelerator in Radiation Belts

Using data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes, scientists have discovered how electrons in the heart of the Van Allen Radiation Belts surrounding Earth are accelerated to more than 99 percent the speed of light. Scientists have discovered a massive particle accelerator in the heart of one of the harshest regions of near-Earth space, a region […]

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A Third Radiation Belt Temporarily Appears in Earth’s Upper Atmosphere

June 24, 2013

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A Third Radiation Belt Appeared and Dissipated in Earths Upper Atmosphere

In a new study, scientists from the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences explain the temporary appearance and dissipation of a third radiation belt in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Since the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts in in the Earth’s upper atmosphere in 1958, space scientists have believed that these belts consisted […]

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NASA Discovers a Third Van Allen Belt Surrounding Earth

March 1, 2013

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A Third Van Allen Belt Surrounds Earth

Using data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes, scientists discovered an isolated third ring in the outer Van Allen radiation belts. Solar activity on the sun sent energy toward Earth, causing the radiation belts to swell and the new particles trapped in the belts eventually settled into a new configuration, a third belt extending out into […]

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Earth’s Van Allen Radiation Belt to be Probed by NASA Satellites

August 14, 2012

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On August 23rd, NASA will launch the Radiation Belt Storm Probes, a pair of specially designed satellites to gather information about the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts, the concentric bands of plasma that protect the biosphere of the planet from highly charged particles. These probes will allow a detailed study of the Van Allen radiation […]

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NASA’s THEMIS Satellite Records Effect of Geomagnetic Storms on Radiation Belts

January 30, 2012

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THEMIS Satellite Captures Electron Escape

Scientists are studying the Van Allen Radiation belts to gain a better understanding about the radiation encircling the Earth. It was once feared that these electrons and radiation would affect people on Earth and it was thought particles would precipitate downward out of the belts. Researchers recently theorized that maybe particles could sweep outward and […]

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