Topic: Van Allen Belts
Greenbelt, MD – NASA says a small but evolving dent in Earth’s magnetic field can cause big headaches for satellites.
Earth’s magnetic field acts like a protective shield around the planet, repelling and trapping charged particles from the Sun. But over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean, an unusually weak spot in the field – called the South Atlantic Anomaly, or SAA – allows these particles to dip closer to the surface than normal.
Written by Sarah Frazier
Greenbelt, MD – About 600 miles from Earth’s surface is the first of two donut-shaped electron swarms, known as the Van Allen Belts, or the radiation belts. Understanding the shape and size of the belts, which can shrink and swell in response to incoming radiation from the sun, is crucial for protecting our technology in space.
The harsh radiation isn’t good for satellites’ health, so scientists wish to know just which orbits could be jeopardized in different situations.
Washington, D.C. – NASA is hard at work building the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems needed to send astronauts into deep space. The agency is developing the core capabilities needed to enable the journey to Mars.
Orion’s first flight atop the SLS will not have humans aboard, but it paves the way for future missions with astronauts. Ultimately, it will help NASA prepare for missions to the Red Planet. During this flight, currently designated Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the spacecraft will travel thousands of miles beyond the moon over the course of about a three-week mission.
Written by Michael Curie
Cape Canaveral, FL – NASA marked a major milestone Friday on its journey to Mars as the Orion spacecraft completed its first voyage to space, traveling farther than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years.
“Today’s flight test of Orion is a huge step for NASA and a really critical part of our work to pioneer deep space on our Journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “The teams did a tremendous job putting Orion through its paces in the real environment it will endure as we push the boundary of human exploration in the coming years.”
Washington, D.C. – In the not-too-distant future, astronauts destined to be the first people to walk on Mars will leave Earth aboard an Orion spacecraft.
Carried aloft by the tremendous power of a Space Launch System rocket, our explorers will begin their Journey to Mars from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the spirit of humanity with them to the Red Planet.
The first future human mission to Mars and those that follow will require the ingenuity and dedication of an entire generation. It’s a journey worth the risks.
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – Two donuts of seething radiation that surround Earth, called the Van Allen radiation belts, have been found to contain a nearly impenetrable barrier that prevents the fastest, most energetic electrons from reaching Earth.
The Van Allen belts are a collection of charged particles, gathered in place by Earth’s magnetic field. They can wax and wane in response to incoming energy from the sun, sometimes swelling up enough to expose satellites in low-Earth orbit to damaging radiation.
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – Researchers working with data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have discovered one way the bubble of charged particles around Saturn — known as the magnetosphere — changes with the planet’s seasons.
The finding provides an important clue for solving a riddle about the planet’s naturally occurring radio signal. The results might also help scientists better understand variations in Earth’s magnetosphere and Van Allen radiation belts, which affect a variety of activities at Earth, ranging from space flight safety to satellite and cell phone communications.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, 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.”
NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes launched Thursday from Cape Canaveral to study the Van Allen Belts
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – Since the dawn of the Space Age, mission planners have tried to follow one simple but important rule: Stay out of the Van Allen Belts. The two doughnut-shaped regions around Earth are filled with “killer electrons,” plasma waves, and electrical currents dangerous to human space travelers and their spacecraft. Lingering is not a good idea.
So much for the old rules. NASA has launched two spacecraft directly into the radiation belts–and this time they plan to stay a while.
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