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Satellite Measurements of the Earth's Magnetosphere Promise Better Space Weather Forecasts

10 Aug 2018, 12:03 UTC
Satellite Measurements of the Earth's Magnetosphere Promise Better Space Weather Forecasts
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Earth is constantly being hammered by charged particles emitted by the Sun that have enough power to make life on Earth almost impossible. We survive because Earth's magnetic field traps and deflects these particles, preventing the vast majority of them from ever reaching the planet's surface.The trapped particles bounce back and forth between the North and South poles in complex, ever-changing patterns that are also influenced by equally intricate and shifting electric fields. We get to enjoy the sight of those particles when the bands they move in (the Van Allen radiation belts) dip into our atmosphere near the poles creating the Northern (and Southern) lights. However, bursts of these particles can damage satellites and sensitive equipment on the ground.It is therefore vital to understand the intricacies of the radiation belts. So far, NASA have launched twin satellites to study the Van Allen belts--however, their orbits only allow them to explore the equatorial regions. This limits our ability to understand flow of particles and prevents us from predicting their effects on all satellites.To also explore regions further from the equator, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, a division of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, launched the Arase satellite in ...

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