. 24/7 Space News .
AFRL satellite duo probing Earth's radiation belts
by Staff Writers
Kirtland AFB NM (SPX) May 18, 2020

Artist's rendering of the Air Force Research Laboratory DSX spacecraft on-orbit with its 80-meter and 16-meter antenna booms extended.

The Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) spacecraft continues its scientific investigations despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted every aspect of life around the world.

DSX launched into a 6000 km by 12000 km orbit on June 25, 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy as part of the STP-2 mission sponsored by the DoD Space Test Program, with the primary mission to uncover the complex relationship between very low frequency (VLF) radio waves and the Earth's radiation belts.

"DSX has been actively transmitting a variety of VLF signals to understand the performance of our transmitter and antenna," says DSX Principal Investigator Dr. James McCollough. "We are very pleased with the quality of the payloads, and have been collecting a treasure trove of environmental measurements as well."

DSX was joined on orbit in February 2020 by the Very Low Frequency Propagation Mapper (VPM), an AFRL-built small satellite designed to listen to radio transmissions from its larger sibling at large distances as it actively probes the response of radiation belt electrons to weak radio waves.

"Both missions have been performing well," says Lt. Col. James Caldwell, Mission Director for both DSX and VPM. "We are very proud of our AFRL space experiment team for achieving several firsts on these missions. Our operations teams have found ways to safely navigate the unprecedented challenges posed during the pandemic."

In addition to studying the dynamics of the Earth's natural radiation belts, the two satellites are developing technologies to protect low earth orbiting spacecraft from the effects of high-altitude nuclear explosions.

"We learned in the late 50's and early 60's that putting a warhead on a missile and detonating it in space produces a long-lived, extremely intense belt of radiation in low earth orbit," explains Dr. Michael Starks, who leads AFRL's Radiation Belt Remediation (RBR) effort.

"This radiation is deadly to unprotected satellites and an explosion in today's on-orbit environment, intentional or otherwise, could cause grave damage to spacecraft that pass through it. We have been working for 15 years to develop technologies to harmlessly eliminate that radiation before it can wreak havoc."

The DSX spacecraft is designed to test the performance of a space-based antenna at injecting radio waves that effectively wash out the nuclear radiation belts. Of course, there aren't currently any nuclear belts to subject to the experiment, but the Earth's natural radiation belts operate in the same way.

"DSX isn't powerful enough to cause a significant change to the natural belts," Dr. McCollough says. "But it does help validate our calculations of how an actual radiation belt remediation capability would perform."

The DSX and VPM spacecraft are anticipated to continue their tandem experiment for about another six months.

"This is a great example of AFRL putting our deep expertise to work on long-standing difficult problems," says Col. Eric Felt, Director of AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate. "This has been a long road for the RBR / DSX / VPM team. I'm excited to see their hard work and perseverance deliver a game-changing capability to our nation."

Related Links
Air Force Research Laboratory
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Thanks for being there;
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 Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Study suggests polymer composite could serve as lighter, non-toxic radiation shielding
Raleigh NC (SPX) May 12, 2020
A new study from researchers at North Carolina State University suggests that a material consisting of a polymer compound embedded with bismuth trioxide particles holds tremendous potential for replacing conventional radiation shielding materials, such as lead. The bismuth trioxide compound is lightweight, effective at shielding against ionizing radiation such as gamma rays, and can be manufactured quickly - making it a promising material for use in applications such as space exploration, medical ... read more

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

Roscosmos confirms signing contract for NASA Astronaut's flight to ISS

NASA Funds Artemis Student Challenges to Inspire Space Exploration

Spacesuit for the ground

Astronauts Leave "Microbial Fingerprint" on Space Station

NASA takes preliminary steps to resume SLS Core Stage testing work

Pryer Aerospace signs long-term agreement with Blue Origin to support New Glenn Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle

Digipen student project heading to space on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket

Bipartisan space launch legislation introduced

The horst and graben landscape of Ascuris Planum

Study suggests terrestrial life unlikely to contaminate Mars

The little tires that could go to Mars

The strange structure of large impact craters on Mars observed by Opportunity

China's tracking ship Yuanwang-5 back from rocket monitoring mission

China's Kuaizhou rocket industrial park partially operational

China's experimental new-generation manned spaceship works normally in orbit

Long March-5B rocket enables China to construct space station

Intelsat files for bankruptcy, seeks to restructure

RUAG Space offers new electronics for constellations

Bankrupt OneWeb seeks DoD financing to keep assets from Chinese purchase

Blackjack focuses on risk reduction flights and simulations

Rocket Crafters concludes tests of 3D-printed hybrid engine

Russia Probes Explosion of One of Its Used Boosters in Orbit

Space age for metals, foams and the living

Study suggests polymer composite could serve as lighter, non-toxic radiation shielding

TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits not misaligned

Amsterdam researchers observe iron in exoplanetary atmosphere

New 'planetary quarantine' report reviewing risks of alien contamination

Scientists reveal solar system's oldest molecular fluids could hold the key to early life

SOFIA finds clues hidden in Pluto's haze

New evidence of watery plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa

Telescopes and spacecraft join forces to probe deep into Jupiter's atmosphere

Newly reprocessed images of Europa show 'chaos terrain' in crisp detail

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - 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. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.