Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















EARTH OBSERVATION
Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed
by Staff Writers
Los Alamos NM (SPX) Mar 21, 2017


Van Allen Probes circle radiation belts. This artist's rendering of the Van Allen Probes mission shows the path of its two spacecraft through the radiation belts that surround Earth, which are made visible in false color. Image courtesy NASA.

The inner Van Allen belt has less radiation than previously believed, according to a recent study in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Observations from NASA's Van Allen probes show the fastest, most energetic electrons in the inner radiation belt are actually much rarer and harder to find than scientists expected.

This is good news for spacecraft that are orbiting in the region and can be damaged by high levels of radiation. The results will also help scientists better understand - and detect - effects from high-altitude nuclear explosions.

"Basically what we're doing is detecting very small signals against very large backgrounds," said Geoff Reeves, a space physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-author of the study.

"Let's say you have a few snowflakes in a rainstorm--but you've never seen snowflakes before. How do you ignore the rain so you can just see the snowflakes? That's what we've done here: we ignored a whole lot of protons so we could see the electrons--and it turns out there aren't as many as we thought."

The Van Allen belts are two doughnut-shaped regions of charged particles encircling Earth (video). Past space missions have not been able to distinguish electrons from high-energy protons in the inner radiation belt.

But by using a special instrument, the Magnetic Electron and Ion Spectrometer (MagEIS), on the Van Allen Probes, scientists could look at the particles separately for the first time. What they found was surprising: almost none of these super-fast electrons, known as relativistic electrons, are present in the inner belt.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has interest in the applications for space weather forecasting to protect satellites and also for monitoring the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits nuclear explosions in space.

"A high-altitude nuclear explosion results in the creation of an artificial radiation belt," said Reeves. "We can learn about the physics of an explosion by looking at these hard-to-detect relativistic electrons. If an artificial radiation belt were ever detected, these new observations would help us understand it better."

Of the two radiation belts, scientists have long understood the outer belt to be the more active one. During intense geomagnetic storms, when charged particles from the sun hurtle across the solar system, the outer radiation belt pulsates dramatically, growing and shrinking in response to the pressure of the solar particles and magnetic field.

Scientists thought that the inner belt maintains a steady position above Earth's surface. The new results, however, show that's not always true. For example, during a very strong geomagnetic storm in June 2015, relativistic electrons were pushed deep into the inner belt.

"When we carefully process the data and remove the contamination, we can see things that we've never been able to see before," said Seth Claudepierre, lead author and Van Allen Probes scientist at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif. "These results are totally changing the way we think about the radiation belt at these energies."

Given the rarity of the storms that can inject relativistic electrons into the inner belts, the scientists now understand that lower levels of radiation are typical there, a result that has implications for spacecraft flying in the region. Knowing exactly how much and what type of radiation is present in any given region of space may enable scientists and engineers to design lighter and cheaper satellites tailored to withstand the specific radiation levels they'll encounter.

In addition to providing a new outlook on spacecraft design, the findings open a new realm for scientists to study next.

"This opens up the possibility of doing science that previously was not possible," said Shri Kanekal, Van Allen Probes deputy mission scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and not involved with the study.

"For example, we can now investigate under what circumstances these electrons penetrate the inner region and see if more intense geomagnetic storms give electrons that are more intense or more energetic."

Research paper

EARTH OBSERVATION
NASA Satellite Identifies Global Ammonia 'Hotspots'
Pasadena CA (JPL) Mar 17, 2017
The first global, long-term satellite study of airborne ammonia gas has revealed "hotspots" of the pollutant over four of the world's most productive agricultural regions. The results of the study, conducted using data from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, could inform the development of strategies to control pollution from ammonia and ammonia bypro ... read more

Related Links
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EARTH OBSERVATION
NASA's hybrid computer enables Raven's autonomous rendezvous capability

Trump, NASA and a rare consensus: mission to Mars

COBALT Flight Demonstrations Fuse Technologies to Gain Precision Landing Results

Spacewalking French, US astronauts to upgrade orbiting lab

EARTH OBSERVATION
N.Korea rocket test shows 'meaningful progress': South

MAXUS - Europe's largest sounding rocket to be launched from Esrange

Spaceport America sets new record for student launched sounding rocket

Satellite launch shelved over strikes

EARTH OBSERVATION
Mars Volcano, Earth's Dinosaurs Went Extinct About the Same Time

Breaks observed in Curiosity rover wheel treads

Does Mars Have Rings? Not Right Now, But Maybe One Day

ExoMars: science checkout completed and aerobraking begins

EARTH OBSERVATION
China Develops Spaceship Capable of Moon Landing

Long March-7 Y2 ready for launch of China's first cargo spacecraft

China Seeks Space Rockets Launched from Airplanes

Riding an asteroid: China's next space goal

EARTH OBSERVATION
OneWeb Satellites breaks ground on high-volume satellite manufacturing facility

Start-Ups at the Final Frontier

Russia probes murder of senior space official in jail

Globalsat Sky and Space Global sign MoU for testing and offering satellite service in Latin America

EARTH OBSERVATION
Rare-earths become water-repellent only as they age

New study maps space dust in 3-D

Visualizing nuclear radiation

ADATS could assist X-planes with large, super-fast data transmission

EARTH OBSERVATION
Fledgling stars try to prevent their neighbors from birthing planets

Fossil or inorganic structure? Scientists dig into early life forms

Gigantic Jupiter-type planet reveals insights into how planets evolve

Operation of ancient biological clock uncovered

EARTH OBSERVATION
Scientists make the case to restore Pluto's planet status

ESA's Jupiter mission moves off the drawing board

NASA Mission Named 'Europa Clipper'

Juno Captures Jupiter Cloudscape in High Resolution




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement