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Van Allen Radiation Belts Mystery Solved With Help Of Student Satellite

A mystery that is 60 years old pertaining to some possibly damaging and energetic particles in the radiation belts of the earth has been resolved. This was done by using information from a student-controlled shoebox-sized satellite.

The findings point toward energetic electrons in internal radiation belt of Earth—mainly close to its inside edge—are generated by cosmic rays emerged from blasts of supernovas, as stated by Professor Xinlin Li of the University of Colorado, Boulder, the United States. The radiation belts of Earth, designated as Van Allen belts, are sheets of energetic particles assembled in place by the magnetic field of the planet.

Van Allen Radiation Belts Mystery Solved With Help Of Student Satellite

The team demonstrated that during a procedure referred as “CRAND” (cosmic ray albedo neutron decay), the cosmic rays penetrating the atmosphere of the Earth crash with neutral atoms, generating a splatter. This creates charged particles, comprising electrons, which are entrapped by magnetic fields of Earth. The results have suggestions for comprehending and better predicting the coming of energetic electrons in the near-Earth space that can harm satellites and intimidate the wellbeing of space-walking astronauts, according to Li.

Soon after the invention in 1958 of the Van Allen radiation belts, both Russian and American scientists assumed that CRAND was probably the resource of the high-energy protons fenced in the magnetic field of Earth.

Nevertheless, over the intervening decades, nobody fruitfully noticed the consequent electrons that should be generated during the neutron decomposition. The CubeSat assignment, entitled as Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment, accommodates a tiny, energetic particle telescope to evaluate the fluctuation of solar energetic protons and electrons of radiation belt of Earth.

CSSWE, introduced in 2012, involves over 65 CU Boulder students and was functioning for over 2 Years from a base station they constructed on the campus’ building roof. Daniel Baker, the study co-author, said, “This is actually a beautiful finding and a huge insight obtained from a really low-priced student satellite, showing that good things can arrive in tiny packages.”

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