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March 19, 2019

New Video Explores Van Allen Probes Mission as De-Orbit Maneuvers Conclude

The twin Van Allen Probes have spent more than six and a half years operating in the most hazardous environment around Earth - the radiation belts. Now, after making new scientific discoveries and providing insights into how to protect spacecraft from space weather, the mission is making its final major orbit maneuver to prepare it for eventual re-entry into the atmosphere.

NASA's Van Allen Probes: Exploring Earth's radiation belts and the extremes of space weather since August 30, 2012.

Credit: Johns Hopkins APL

Two tough, resilient spacecraft have been orbiting Earth for the past six and a half years, flying repeatedly through a hazardous zone of charged particles known as the Van Allen radiation belts. Designed to study these areas above our planet, previously thought to be stable and well-understood, the twin NASA Van Allen Probes – launched in August 2012 – have confirmed scientific theories and revealed new structures, compositions, and processes at work in these dynamic regions.

On February 12, the Van Allen Probes mission operations team at APL – where the probes were designed and built – began a series of orbit descent maneuvers. These changes will change the lowest point of orbit, or perigee, of both spacecraft some 161 miles (260 km) in order to position them for an eventual re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, in approximately 15 years.

A new video explores the mission, scientific discoveries, and how the mission is making its final major orbit maneuver. Watch the video on APL's YouTube channel.

On Friday, March 22, at 4:20 p.m., the final burn for the second spacecraft will begin. A 4:30 p.m. livestream from the Van Allen Probes Mission Operations Center in Building 21 during this burn will include interviews with Van Allen Probes project manager Nelli Mosavi and project scientist Sasha Ukhorskiy, as well as NASA's geospace mission scientist David Sibeck.

You can watch the final burn livestream on NASA TV as well as APL's YouTube and Facebook pages.

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