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NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) is the first twin-spacecraft mission designed to explore our Earth's radiation belts. It was launched on an Atlas V rocket on Thursday 30 August, 2012 at 4:05 am EDT at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41.

News...NASA's Van Allen Probes Reveal a New Radiation Belt Around Earth

NASA's Van Allen Probes mission has discovered a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth, revealing the existence of unexpected structures and processes within these hazardous regions of space.

Previous observations have shown two distinct regions of trapped radiation surrounding our planet. Particle detection instruments aboard the twin Van Allen Probes, launched August 30 2012, quickly revealed to scientists the existence of this new, transient, third radiation belt.

Van Allen 3 Belts Picture

The Van Allen Probes (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) will study changes in Earth's space environment caused by the sun (space weather) that can disable satellites, create power grid failures and disrupt GPS service. The mission also will allow researchers to understand fundamental radiation and particle acceleration processes throughout the universe. The Van Allen Probes (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) is the second NASA mission under the Living With a Star program.

RBSP spacecraft picture

 Two RBSP spacecraft...an Artist's impression.

Both satellites contain five science instruments inside their eight-sided frames, which are about 6 feet across (1.8 m), 3 feet high (0.9 m) and weigh a total of 1,475 pounds (670 kg) each.

The mission duration is 2 years.

Radiation Belt Storm Probes Picture


Note: Originally Van Allen Probes were named NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) .

NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) were set to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on August 24, 2012, unfortunately the launch was postponed.

Van Allen Probes picture

Launch was scrubbed on Saturday 25 August due to weather conditions associated with lightning, as well as cumulus and anvil clouds and unfavorable weather forecast due to Tropical Storm Isaac. The team decided to roll the Atlas V vehicle back to the Vertical Integration Facility to ensure the launcher and twin RBSP spacecraft are protected and secured from the weather. The launch was rescheduled to Thursday, August 30 at 4:05 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Thursday 30 August 2012 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 at 4.05am.

 Atlas V RBSP being on launch pad.

On 9 November 2012, NASA renamed the Radiation Belt Storm Probes to the Van Allen Probes in honor of James Van Allen, the scientist who helped launch the field of magnetospheric science. The Van Allen Probes have turned on and tested all instruments and are beginning their prime science mission.

Did you know?

* The Van Allen belts were discovered by American space scientist James Van Allen in 1958.

* Living With a Star (LWS) is a NASA scientific program to study those aspects of the connected Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society.

* The Solar Dynamics Observatory was the first mission to be launched for NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) Program.

Van Allen Belts Picture

Earth's Van Allen Belts.

Radiation Belt Storm Probes Links:

Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) - The Johns Hopkins University
Quick Facts: Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP): Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
NASA Launches Radiation Belt Storm Probes Mission: by NASA (30 Aug 2012).
The Van Allen Probes: Honoring the Origins of Magnetospheric Science: by NASA (11 November 2012).

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Copyright 2000-2014 Vic Stathopoulos. All rights reserved.

Updated: Tuesday 1st, April, 2014

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