NASA Discovers New Radiation Belt Around Earth
2013-03-01 0:00

By Charles Q. Choi | SPACE.com

image

A ring of radiation previously unknown to science fleetingly surrounded Earth last year before being virtually annihilated by a powerful interplanetary shock wave, scientists say.

NASA’s twin Van Allen space probes, which are studying the Earth’s radiation belts, made the cosmic find. The surprising discovery — a new, albeit temporary, radiation belt around Earth — reveals how much remains unknown about outer space, even those regions closest to the planet, researchers added.

After humanity began exploring space, the first major find made there were the Van Allen radiation belts, zones of magnetically trapped, highly energetic charged particles first discovered in 1958.

"They were something we thought we mostly understood by now, the first discovery of the Space Age," said lead study author Daniel Baker, a space scientist at the University of Colorado.

These belts were believed to consist of two rings: an inner zone made up of both high-energy electrons and very energetic positive ions that remains stable in intensity over the course of years to decades; and an outer zone comprised mostly of high-energy electrons whose intensity swings over the course of hours to days depending primarily on the influence from the solar wind, the flood of radiation streaming from the sun.

The discovery of a temporary new radiation belt now has scientists reviewing the Van Allen radiation belt models to understand how it occurred.



Radiation rings around Earth

The giant amounts of radiation the Van Allen belts generate can pose serious risks for satellites. To learn more about them, NASA launched twin spacecraft, the Van Allen probes, in the summer of 2012.

The satellites were armed with a host of sensors to thoroughly analyze the plasma, energetic particles, magnetic fields and plasma waves in these belts with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.

Unexpectedly, the probes revealed a new radiation belt surrounding Earth, a third one made of super-high-energy electrons embedded in the outer Van Allen belt about 11,900 to 13,900 miles (19,100 to 22,300 kilometers) above the planet’s surface. This stable ring of space radiation apparently formed on Sept. 2 and lasted for more than four weeks.

"The feature was so surprising, I initially foolishly thought the instruments on the probes weren’t working properly, but I soon realized the lab had built such wonderful instruments that there wasn’t anything wrong with them, so what we saw must be true," Baker said.

This newfound radiation belt then abruptly and almost completely disappeared on Oct. 1. It was apparently disrupted by an interplanetary shock wave caused by a spike in solar wind speeds.

"More than five decades after the original discovery of these radiation belts, you can still find new unexpected things there," Baker said. "It’s a delight to be able to find new things in an old domain. We now need to re-evaluate them thoroughly both theoretically and observationally."


On Aug. 31, 2012, a giant prominence on the sun erupted, sending out particles and a shock wave that traveled near Earth. This event may have been one of the causes of a third radiation belt that appeared around Earth a few days later, a phenomenon that was observed for the very first time by the newly-launched Van Allen Probes. This image of the prominence before it erupted was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

A radiation mystery

It remains uncertain how this temporary radiation belt arose. Van Allen mission scientists suspect it was likely created by the solar wind tearing away the outer Van Allen belt.

"It looks like its existence may have been bookended by solar disturbances," Baker said.

Future study of the Van Allen belts can reveal if such temporary rings of radiation are common or rare.

"Do these occur frequently, or did we get lucky and see a very rare circumstance that happens only once in a while?" Baker said. "And what other unusual revelations might come now that we are really looking at these radiation belts with new, modern tools?"

The scientists detailed their findings online Feb. 28 in the journal Science.

Article from: space.com




Tune into Red Ice Radio:

David Talbott - Lightning Scarred Planet Mars & The Electric Sun

Wallace Thornhill - The Electric Universe

Donald E. Scott - The Electric Sky

Susan Joy Rennison - A New Cosmic Age, Space Weather & Cosmic Radiation

David Icke - The Cosmic Firewall & The Moon Matrix

Paul A. LaViolette - Earth Under Fire, Galactic Superwaves & Subquantum Kinetics

Jay Weidner - Hour 1 - Kubrick’s Odyssey: How Stanley Faked the Moon Landings

Mike Bara - Dark Mission, The Occult NASA Moon Mission





Related Articles
Space Radiation Expected to Rise for Airline Passengers and Astronauts
Too much radiation for astronauts to make it to Mars
NASA twin satellites to probe mysteries of the Van Allen belts
What are space radiation effects?
Marcus Allen of Nexus Magazine : The Moon Landings Fact or Fiction
Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits
New Discovery Provides Unprecedented Control of Magnetic Fields
Earth’s Magnetic Field Made Quick Flip- Flop
Scientist Finds Hidden Portals in Earth’s Magnetic Field


Latest News from our Front Page

West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
2015-01-27 2:16
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be. In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
2015-01-27 2:34
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
2015-01-27 0:22
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
The Ring Of The Nibelungs
2015-01-27 0:20
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a 2004 German television film directed by Uli Edel and starring Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, ...
Google Street View Shows NAACP Bombing a Hoax
2015-01-26 22:58
Caught in the act: NAACP passing off old soot marks as new in ‘bomb’ hoax NAACP Colorado Chapter President Henry D. Allen Jr. has been caught in the act of passing off old soot marks as new damage from the recent ‘explosion’ at the Colorado Springs chapter headquarters. Although Gotnews.com has previously remarked on the minimal damage as reported by the ...
More News »