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Topic: NASA’s Living with a Star Program

NASA’s Van Allen Probes celebrates 5 years of studying Van Allen Radiation Belts

 

Written by Mara Johnson-Groh
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Most satellites, not designed to withstand high levels of particle radiation, wouldn’t last a day in the Van Allen Radiation belts. Trapped by Earth’s magnetic field into two giant belts around the planet, high-energy particles in the region can batter the spacecraft and even interfere with onboard electronics.

But NASA’s Van Allen Probes have been traveling through this hazardous area since August 30th 2012 – they are now celebrating their fifth year in space studying this dynamic region.

The two Van Allen Probes work as a team, following one behind the other to uniquely observe changes in the belts. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/JHUAPL)

The two Van Allen Probes work as a team, following one behind the other to uniquely observe changes in the belts. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/JHUAPL)

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NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft discover stripe pattern in one radiation belt around Earth

 

Written by Geoff Brown / Karen C. Fox
APL / NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft have shown that high-energy electrons in the inner radiation belt display a persistent pattern that resembles slanted zebra stripes.

Surprisingly, this structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light.

Two giant belts of radiation surround Earth. The inner belt is dominated by electrons and the outer one by protons.  (NASA)

Two giant belts of radiation surround Earth. The inner belt is dominated by electrons and the outer one by protons.
(NASA)

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NASA’s Van Allen Probes find third Radiation Belt around the Earth

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Earth’s radiation belts were one of the first discoveries of the Space Age. A new finding published in today’s issue of Science shows that we still have much to learn about them. NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes, launched just last August, have revealed a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth.

“Even 55 years after their discovery, Earth’s radiation belts still are capable of surprising us,” said Nicky Fox, Van Allen Probes deputy project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics  Laboratory in Laurel, MD. “We thought we knew the radiation belts, but we don’t.”

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National Research Council report shows more ways the Sun effects Earth’s Climate

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.

There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

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NASA releases Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday

 

NASA is so sure the world won’t come to an end on December 21st, 2012, they have already released this news item for the day after.

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – If you’re reading this story, it means one thing:  The World Didn’t End Yesterday.

According to media reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, the world was supposed to be destroyed on December 21st, 2012.

Apparently not.

“The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning,” says Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. “The Maya calendar did not end on December 21st, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date.”

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