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30 Aug. 2012, 04:05:00 EDT  
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What is the connection between solar events and the radiation belts?
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The Mission

The Van Allen Probes, the second mission of NASA's Living With a Star program, are providing unprecedented insight into the physical dynamics of the radiation belts and are providing scientists the data they need to make predictions of changes in this critical region of space.

Since their launch on Aug. 30 2012, the two Van Allen Probes have orbited the Earth, sampling the harsh radiation belt environment where major space weather activity occurs and many spacecraft operate.

The two spacecraft are measuring the particles, magnetic and electric fields, and waves that fill geospace. Only with two spacecraft taking identical measurements, and following the same path, can scientists begin to understand how the belts change in both space and time.

Media contact:
Geoff Brown

Building the Van Allen Probes

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Latest News

March 19, 2014
Van Allen Probes Reveal New “Zebra Stripes” Structure in Earth’s Inner Radiation Belt

Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in Earth’s inner radiation belt using data from the twin NASA Van Allen Probes spacecraft. Most surprisingly, this structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth.

March 7, 2014
New Van Allen Probes Observations Helping To Improve Space Weather Models

Using data from the Van Allen Probes, researchers have tested and improved a model to help forecast what's happening in the radiation environment of near-Earth space.

December 18, 2013
Scientists solve a decades-old mystery of Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts

New research using data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission helps resolve decades of scientific uncertainty over the origin of ultra-relativistic electrons in the Earthís near space environment, and is likely to influence our understanding of planetary magnetospheres throughout the universe.

October 9, 2013
In The Loop: Van Allen Probes Provide Way to “Watch” Juno Fly-by

The Van Allen Probes team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) has created a visualization that provides a way to “watch” today’s fly-by of NASA’s Juno spacecraft and the current space weather above Earth.

September 27, 2013
Ultra-fast Electrons Explain Third Radiation Ring Around Earth

In the already complicated science of what creates – and causes constant change in – the radiation belts surrounding Earth, researchers have announced that some of the electrons reach such enormous energies that they are driven by an entirely different set of physical processes.

Highlighted Resources

Radiation Belt Science
Wondering what's new in the field of radiation belt science? Check out this website, run by Geoff Reeves, one of the science team members for the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite (ECT) (visit Geoff''s “Radiation Belt Science” Facebook page here).

Play Now!Music Video by the Ionized Gases
Every second, a million tons of energized matter blasts off from the surface of Sun. Where does this “solar wind” go? Follow the speedy voyage of some protons, electrons and ions as they make a magnetic connection with Earth – becoming trapped in the Van Allen radiation belts that surround our planet. As they bounce, drift and spiral through the belts, some particles will shoot down Earth’s long magnetic tail, while others spin back to the upper reaches of the magnetic field and spark the auroras – the amazing celestial light show we know as the northern (or southern) lights. Earth can be a crazy, magnetic place – watch this video to see how!

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Conversation with the Team

Conversation with the Team

Mission Overview and Sun Earth Connections

Rock and Roll Acoustic Test

Meet the Instrument Principal Investigators

Launch Events

Follow all of the upcoming press briefings and launch coverage of the Van Allen Probes on NASA TV

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In the Classroom

Exploring the Extremes of Spaceweather
Twin spacecraft, designed to withstand the incredibly harsh environment of the Earth's radiation belts, will explore a region too dangerous for most...

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Fun Facts

Between May 10-12, 1999, the solar wind nearly vanished, causing Earth's magnetosphere to expand in volume more than 100 times!

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Games and Activities

Van Allen Probes and Radiation Belt Model

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JHU/APL Official: Ms. K. Beisser
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