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Keywords:

  • geomagnetic storms;
  • Van Allen radiation belts;
  • satellites;
  • electrons;
  • ion;
  • NASA

Storms on Earth delayed by only a few days the launch of NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), which blasted off on 30 August for a 2-year tour to explore the Van Allen radiation belts. The two satellites will help scientists learn about the processes that affect electrons and ions in the donut-shaped belts and how the belts change in the context of geomagnetic storms. “The information collected from these probes will benefit the public by allowing us to better protect our satellites and understand how space weather affects communications and technology on Earth,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Each probe carries an identical suite of instruments, including an Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite; Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science; Electric Field and Waves Suite; Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment; and Relativistic Proton Spectrometer. RBSP is part of NASA's Living With a Star program and is managed for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. For more information, see http://rbsp.jhuapl.edu.