NASA's probes make clear the Van Allen radiation belt
NASA scientists are carried out analyzing the info despatched again by its twin Van Allen probes, and its outcomes have shattered our understanding of the radiation belt. For many years, scientists believed the belt situated round 600 miles from the planet’s floor is comprised of a small internal donut and a bigger outer one divided by an empty area (see the illustration under the fold). It seems the form of the belt modifications based mostly on the kind of electron you are observing.
When the Van Allen probes noticed excessive power electrons, the radiation belt appeared like simply what we thought it will like within the illustration above. However when it checked out low power electrons, the inside donut seemed a lot chunkier than the outer one, like so:
When the probes checked out electrons with the very best power, although, they noticed an outer donut separated from Earth solely by an empty area:
Lastly, geomagnetic storms utterly mess up the radiation belt and the entire area might be utterly crammed with low-power electrons:
We have solely discovered this out now as a result of older devices might solely measure a handful of power ranges; the brand new probes are able to measuring lots of directly. Plus, they filter out background noise within the type of protons very properly. The area company deployed the probes again in 2012 in an effort to guard our satellites. By understanding which orbits expose satellites to radiation probably the most, scientists will have the ability to make changes and guarantee they do not die an early dying.
[Image credit: NASA Goddard/Duberstein]