Twin space probe design phase begins

April 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: Herschel data links mysterious quasar winds to furious starbursts

Related Stories

How does it look when Earth is bombarded with dark matter?

December 7, 2017

University of Southern Denmark researchers have conducted simulations of dark matter particles hitting the Earth. Physicists believe that Earth collides with uncountable dark matter particles as it hurtles through space. ...

Q&A about the toughness of NASA's webb telescope

December 6, 2017

Just how resilient does a space telescope have to be to survive both Earth's environment and the frigid, airless environment of space? Paul Geithner, the deputy project manager – technical for James Webb Space Telescope ...

Life could be likelier on icy planets than rocky ones

December 4, 2017

In the hunt for extra-terrestrial life, scientists tend to take what is known as the "low-hanging fruit approach." This consists of looking for conditions similar to what we experience here on Earth, which include at oxygen, ...

Recommended for you

Eclipse 2017: Science from the moon's shadow

December 11, 2017

On Dec. 11, 2017, six researchers discussed initial findings based on observations of the Sun and on Earth gathered during the solar eclipse that stretched across North America on Aug. 21, 2017. Ranging from new information ...

Unravelling the mysteries of extragalactic jets

December 11, 2017

University of Leeds researchers have mathematically examined plasma jets from supermassive black holes to determine why certain types of jets disintegrate into huge plumes.

The initial mass function

December 11, 2017

The gas and dust in giant molecular clouds gradually come together under the influence of gravity to form stars. Precisely how this occurs, however, is incompletely understood. The mass of a star, for example, is by far the ...

0 comments

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.