Twin space probe design phase begins

Apr 21, 2008

The U.S. space agency said design has started on its radiation storm probes -- twin spacecraft that will be launched into the Earth's radiation belts.

Researchers said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration spacecraft are being designed to provide insight into the physical dynamics of near-Earth space, where violent space weather can affect astronauts, satellites and even ground-based technologies.

Researchers and engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., will build and operate the twin probes, which are scheduled for a 2011 launch and a primary mission of two years.

The radiation belts are two doughnut-shaped regions encircling Earth, where high-energy particles are trapped by the planet's magnetic field, scientists said. Most Earth-orbiting spacecraft pass through the belts, which can affect both astronauts and spacecraft.

Scientists hope the space mission will resolve decades-old scientific mysteries of how such particles become energized to such high levels and how the radiation belts vary so dramatically with changing conditions on the sun.

The instruments will be provided by teams managed by Boston University, the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the National Reconnaissance Office.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Explore further: Cassini: Return to Rhea

Related Stories

Is the universe finite or infinite?

59 minutes ago

Two possiblities exist: either the Universe is finite and has a size, or it's infinite and goes on forever. Both possibilities have mind-bending implications.

New insights found in black hole collisions

1 hour ago

New research provides revelations about the most energetic event in the universe—the merging of two spinning, orbiting black holes into a much larger black hole.

Unexplained warm layer discovered in Venus' atmosphere

Mar 25, 2015

A group of Russian, European and American scientists have found a warm layer in Venus' atmosphere, the nature of which is still unknown. The researchers made the discovery when compiling a temperature map ...

A new spin on Saturn's peculiar rotation

Mar 25, 2015

Tracking the rotation speed of solid planets, like the Earth and Mars, is a relatively simple task: Just measure the time it takes for a surface feature to roll into view again. But giant gas planets Jupiter ...

Recommended for you

Cassini: Return to Rhea

11 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

18 hours ago

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

21 hours ago

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

21 hours ago

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

MESSENGER completes 4,000th orbit of Mercury

21 hours ago

On March 25, the MESSENGER spacecraft completed its 4,000th orbit of Mercury, and the lowest point in its orbit continues to move closer to the planet than ever before. The orbital phase of the MESSENGER ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.