by Staff Writers
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Mar 30, 2017
High above Earth, two giant rings of energetic particles trapped by the planet's magnetic field create a dynamic and harsh environment that holds many mysteries - and can affect spacecraft traveling around Earth. NASA's Van Allen Probes act as space detectives, to help study the complex particle interactions that occur in these rings, known as the Van Allen radiation belts.
Recently, the spacecraft were in just the right place, at just the right time, to catch an event caused by the fallout of a geomagnetic storm as it happened. They spotted a sudden rise in particles zooming in from the far side of the planet, improving our understanding of how particles travel in near-Earth space.
The two twin Van Allen Probe spacecraft orbit one behind the other, investigating clues in a way a single spacecraft never could. On one typical day, as the first instrument traveled around Earth, it spotted nothing unusual, but the second, following just an hour later, observed an increase in oxygen particles speeding around Earth's dayside - the side nearest the sun. Where did these particles come from? How had they become so energized?
Scientists scoured the clues to figure out what was happening. With the help of computer models, they deduced that the particles had originated on the night side of Earth before being energized and accelerated through interactions with Earth's magnetic field. As the particles journeyed around Earth, the lighter hydrogen particles were lost in collisions with the atmosphere, leaving an oxygen-rich plasma. The findings were presented in a recent paper in Geophysical Review Letters.
The unique double observations of the Van Allen Probes help untangle the complex workings of Earth's magnetic environment. Such information has provided the very first view of these harsh belts from the inside - and it helps us better protect satellites and astronauts traveling through the region.
Paris (ESA) Mar 23, 2017
ESA's Swarm satellites are seeing fine details in one of the most difficult layers of Earth's magnetic field to unpick - as well as our planet's magnetic history imprinted on Earth's crust. Earth's magnetic field can be thought of as a huge cocoon, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard our planet in solar wind. Without it, life as we know it would not exist. ... read more
Goddard Space Flight Center
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application
|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|