by Staff Writers
Newark, NJ (SPX) Mar 25, 2014
An NJIT physicist is a collaborator in the discovery of a new structure in Earth's inner radiation belt -- a zebra-striped structure of highly energized electrons that could endanger humans in space and also damage low-earth navigation and communication satellites.
And surprisingly, the new structure is produced not by solar activity but by Earth's slow rotation. Scientists had previously thought Earth's rotation couldn't affect the motion of radiation belt particles. The data supporting these discoveries comes from a measuring device aboard the two NASA Van Allen Probes currently orbiting Earth.
Louis Lanzerotti, distinguished research professor of physics at NJIT, is the principal investigator for the measuring device, called the Van Allen Probes' Ion Composition Experiment (RBSPICE), which collected the data. The findings are reported in a paper co-authored by Lanzerotti for the March 20 issue of the journal Nature.
Lanzerotti and his team at NJIT's Center for Solar-Terrestrial Research collaborated on the research with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Fundamental Technologies, Inc.
"It's always hard to predict how scientific research affects the realm of practical design," says Lanzerotti. "But these findings could have implications for those who model space weather and those who design and operate navigation and communication satellites as well as spacecraft used for national security. "
Anyone who designs these systems will need to consider the newly discovered structure of the radiation belt, adds Lanzerotti, a prominent physicist who is known in science circles for having Minor Planet 5504 named after him, as well as a mountain in the Antarctic. The minor planet is named in recognition of his space and planetary research and Mount Lanzerotti recognizes his geophysical research.
"It is amazing how Earth's space environment, including the radiation belts, continue to surprise us even after we have studied them for over 50 years," he says. "Our understanding of the complex structures of the belts, and the processes behind the belts' behaviors, continues to grow, all of which contribute to the eventual goal of providing accurate space weather modeling and helping designers to build communication systems and spacecraft that can withstand the highly energized particles in earth's radiation belt."
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - 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. 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 All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|