NASA Van Allen Probes Discover Particle Accelerator in Earth's Radiation Belts

NASA's Van Allen Probes have made a surprising and unusual discovery. They've found a particle accelerator in the heart of Earth's radiation belts, speeding up tiny particles to more than 99 percent the speed of light.
The radiation belts around Earth were first discovered when the U.S. launched its very first satellites into space. That's when scientists quickly realized how dangerous these belts were. In fact, most satellite orbits have to duck below the radiation belts or circle outside of them in order to keep instruments from being exposed to dangerous radiation.
"Until the 1990s, we thought that the Van Allen belts were pretty well-behaved and changed slowly," said Geoff Reeves, the first author of the new paper, in a news release. "With more and more measurements, however, we realized how quickly and unpredictably the radiation belts changed. They are basically never in equilibrium, but in a constant state of change."Read More...


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