Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Discovers Third Radiation Belt Circling Earth

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the three!-three-radiation-belts!-ah-ah-ah! dept.

NASA 70

An anonymous reader sends word that NASA scientists using the Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope (REPT) about the Van Allen Probes have discovered a third radiation belt surrounding Earth. Scientists have been aware of the Van Allen radiation belts since the 1950s, but it was thought that there were only two of them. The probes were sent up to simply map the belts in fine detail; the discovery of a third belt was a complete surprise. Deputy mission scientist Shri Kanekal said, "By the fifth day REPT was on, we could plot out our observations and watch the formation of a third radiation belt. We started wondering if there was something wrong with our instruments. We checked everything, but there was nothing wrong with them. The third belt persisted beautifully, day after day, week after week, for four weeks." Part of the reason they caught a glimpse of this belt was that they turned the REPT on early, so it would overlap with another probe that had reached end-of-life and was about to de-orbit. If they hadn't decided to do so, or if the REPT hadn't worked perfectly, we still might be in the dark about a third Van Allen belt.

cancel ×

70 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Old Man Earth is getting old (5, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047167)

Maybe he should trade one of those belts for a pair of suspenders?

Re:Old Man Earth is getting old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050037)

So Old Man Earth is into cross-dressing [wikipedia.org] now eh?

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047239)

I wonder if this changes the effects of coronal mass ejections and solar wind? It will be interesting to see what comes of this news.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047323)

Gee, you sound smart.

Re:Interesting (1)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047439)

the effects would be the same, because the 3rd belt has (presumably) always been there... it's just that our understanding of the effects might change in light of the new data.

Re:Interesting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047501)

If this is somehow related to Global Warming, it is entirely possible that the belt has formed recently and could continue to intensify. Regardless of it's origins, it could mean additional protection for earth and spectacular auroras.

Re:Interesting (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050025)

If this is somehow related to Global Warming, it is entirely possible that the belt has formed recently and could continue to intensify. Regardless of it's origins, it could mean additional protection for earth and spectacular auroras.

Please explain how any warming of the Earth's atmosphere could be related to the radiation belts that are produced, presumably, by our magnetic field, which has no connection to how warm or cold the air is. I know you're trolling but I could use the LOL's when you try to explain that.

It was just discovered. It has most likely been there for a long, long time. Most likely since long before mammals arrived.

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047637)

The third belt has not always been there, nor is it there now. It was blasted away by a solar shock wave a few weeks after they noticed it. The guess is that a solar shock wave is what created it in the first place, too.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43054761)

How convenient!

Re:Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061555)

RTFA? WTF!

Re:Interesting (1)

fbumg (632974) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048219)

This was more funny when I read it as a reply to the "Old Man Earth..." comment above it. I thought you were carrying on the old-man funny-ness, with "coronal mass ejections" implying an old man spending too much time on the toilet. And the "solar wind" a reference to him farting. Now I realize you were serious, that's too bad. And no, I am not 10 years old, I merely think like one.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43048439)

I think your cart is in front of your horse there, buddy. How could the belts affect the sun? It's the other way around.

Re:Interesting (0)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048705)

How could the belts affect the sun?

Putting on sunscreen lotion doesn't change the Sun either, but it does change how the Sun affects you.

Re:Interesting (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050103)

Just as much as a piece of cat fur will put out a house fire...

Gratifying - (5, Interesting)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047331)

I worked on this spaceship for ~3 years. Let me say that it's very gratifying that it found something, and especially that it found something nobody was expecting. I'm much relieved.

Re:Gratifying - (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047401)

where is the:
+1 worked on actual spacecraft mod?

Re:Gratifying - (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year and a half ago | (#43066809)

Given the user's name, are you sure that's a +1 mod?

Re:Gratifying - (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047585)

I worked on this spaceship for ~3 years. Let me say that it's very gratifying that it found something, and especially that it found something nobody was expecting. I'm much relieved.

It's always a plus to find something you weren't looking for. Hope it succeeds on its primary mission as well.

Re:Gratifying - (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047639)

Unless it's female body parts on your own body...or maybe that WOULD be gratifying?

Re:Gratifying - (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048187)

I worked on this spaceship for ~3 years. Let me say that it's very gratifying that it found something, and especially that it found something nobody was expecting. I'm much relieved.

It's always a plus to find something you weren't looking for.

Obviously not a regular viewer of water [imdb.com] based [imdb.com] horror [imdb.com] films... [imdb.com]

Re:Gratifying - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047827)

That is one of the best feelings in science, the accidental discoveries.
Even today there are still many accidental discoveries happening in so many different fields.

I hope to be around for many of those accidents making the lives of people better in the near future.
Metamaterials especially have a huge potential to completely change so much tech on the large and small-scales.
From making structures to guide waves around water structures to guiding EM waves to a hyper-efficient solar cell, and maybe even ways to prevent damage from earthquakes even more. (admittedly the last one will require some changes to a lot of building foundations, but given quakes, might not need to wait too long... )

Re:Gratifying - (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43048723)

It must have been cramped trying to work in that tiny spacecraft for three years. I hope the food was good.

Re:Gratifying - (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#43049463)

What I learned doing this was that space always has a surprise. You may think that you understand how thing work away from earth, but all too often predictions fall short.

Re:Relief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43061595)

I felt great relief when my son was born intact with standard digits, etcetera. Other than that I have never had such a success.

Congratulations.

More Proof (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047333)

More proof that man never went to the moon.

Re:More Proof (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047433)

More proof that man never went to the moon.

The Apollo trans-lunar trajectories skimmed that region of space almost completely. Your silly comment is like blaming Columbus for not having discovered Australia.

Re:More Proof (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#43049961)

... or America for that matter.

However, for discovering the Bahamas he's one of my heros.

Re:More Proof (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050221)

Where the hell's our Leif Ericson day?

Is REPT playing Star Castle? (2)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047347)

We had a third belt and then we didn't... gamers are at fault.

Re:Is REPT playing Star Castle? (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048285)

gamers are at fault.

What, they stopped eating pizza and started exercising?

Van Allen belts...Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (3, Interesting)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047359)

Reminds me of one of my favorite movies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyage_to_the_Bottom_of_the_Sea [wikipedia.org]
Yes, I know, the plot is typical 50's non-science (using a nuclear missile to amputate the Van Allen belts from earth because they caught fire....). But i still like it.

So let's see... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047371)

We've got the Van Allen belt... what are the other two, Van Morrison and Van Johnson?

Re:So let's see... (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047571)

We've got the Van Allen belt... what are the other two, Van Morrison and Van Johnson?

the one responsible for lightning is Van de Graaff

Re:So let's see... (2)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047737)

I cast a vote for Van Halen

Re:So let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43048545)

Well, I change your vote to "Van Hagar" - so there.

Re:So let's see... (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051503)

That should be David Lee Roth, because the new ring is apparently not in the group any more.

Re:So let's see... (1)

Chrutil (732561) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047905)

We've got the Van Allen belt... what are the other two, Van Morrison and Van Johnson?

Let's hope it stays at three so we don't get a Van Damme belt as well.

Re:So let's see... (1)

sehlat (180760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048017)

This third one is just Van Ordinaire

Re:So let's see... (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048185)

Van Cliburn.

That's where the "Music of the Spheres" comes from.

Meanwhile on CNN... (5, Funny)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047479)

Was this 3rd belt caused by Fukashima or Global Warming?

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047529)

Clearly it was Bush.

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047669)

No, that's MSNBC.

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (2)

asylumx (881307) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048405)

Nah, CNN will allow their opinion articles to blame both Bush and Obama as long as it gets them viewers. Meanwhile, Fox will explicitly blame Obama and MSNBC will claim it's Bush's fault.

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048775)

And how will it impact your Monday morning commute?

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050159)

And Fox News... Obama budget fiasco stops NASA from keeping radiation belt away from earth.

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051531)

"Since the beginning of the Obama presidency, radiation around the Earth has actually increased. So much for the Liberal Green Agenda from this Environmentalist-In-Chief. Can our planet survive four more years of this, or Is it finally time for Obama to go? You decide."

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (1)

AlabamaCajun (2710177) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052137)

No, the Vulcans put it there to teach us how to build a warp drive.

Re:Meanwhile on CNN... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052979)

I blame gay weddings, gun control and Obama bin Laden.

How many of these are not artificial? (1)

tokul (682258) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047489)

Which belts are not created by some bomb test?

Re:How many of these are not artificial? (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047539)

Considering we don't generally detonate nuclear bombs in orbit around the planet... I would say all of them.

Re:How many of these are not artificial? (4, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047869)

And even when we do [wikipedia.org] , the radiation belt created doesn't last long. Five years in the case of the Starfish Prime artificial belt. Probably because the belt isn't caused by or reinforced by solar particle flux, so the trapped particles leak over time.

Re:How many of these are not artificial? (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052409)

While briefly on the topic of high-altitude nuclear detonations, check out this photo of the ground illumination from the 3.8MT Hardtack Teak [wikipedia.org] shot, 77km (48mi) above. For comparison, Starfish Prime was 1.4MT at an altitude of 400km (250mi).

Re:How many of these are not artificial? (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050183)

Someone needs to look at the sheer scale of what's being talked about...
A nuclear bomb is very small comparedly. Very very very small.

Re:How many of these are not artificial? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051537)

Someone else needs to read up on Starfish Prime [wikipedia.org] . We can and did influence these systems.

And old too (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43047535)

Look how high up that belt is!

FrOst pist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047597)

your own beer Share, this news haveo their moments Enjoy the loud Apple too. No, Time wholesome and fanatic known claim that BSD is a something that you is dying. Fact:

Due to Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047699)

Radioactive Hydrogen due to Global Warming.

More belts than Final Fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43047931)

What I find most intriguing, is how radiation intesified the field and created MORE belts.

Imagine the implications if we knew how this would happen (and this is what the probes are for). Imagine fluctuating radiation belts on manned spacecraft that could strengthen when in contact with radiation. Making interstellar flight even safer for the passengers.

And eventually... the USS Enterprice NCC-1701

Daydreaming aside, there could be a lot of practical uses on-planet. Like shielding against cosmic rays, etc.

Which one is the new one? (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048183)

Unless I missed it, it's not clear from TFA which of the three belts shown in the map is the "new", intermittent belt.

I'm guessing it's the inner one (which I'd expect to decay from encounters with the very tenuous upper atmosphere). But I'd like to know for sure.

Re:Which one is the new one? (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048563)

It's the outermost one. TFA is disappointing because it reads more like a beg for funding than an informative look at the new belt. Here's [nbcnews.com] yesterday's NBC article on the subject.

Re:Which one is the new one? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048615)

Er...or not. I actually just checked the numbers, and the altitude given for the newfound belt (19-22km) would put it as the middle one. Bah.

Re:Which one is the new one? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048645)

19-22 thousand km. I'm really bad at this today.

Implications (1)

Roachie (2180772) | about a year and a half ago | (#43048517)

What can we draw from this with regards to that tea kettle that is in orbit up there?

Re:Implications (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052429)

What can we draw from this with regards to that tea kettle that is in orbit up there?

You mean Russell's? [wikipedia.org] Hasn't been spotted; agnostics are awaiting further news.

NASA (1)

Vincent Bucchieri (2854723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050071)

Props to NASA for continuing expanding knowledge beyond what we know about the universe.

Not a "third belt" (2)

yusing (216625) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050967)

Not a "third belt" at all. A temporary "third concentration" within the Van Allen belt, yes. The lower concentration is blamed on cosmic ray neutron=>proton interactions, the upper concentration to atmospheric and solar electrons. The belt was already known to consist of some concentration of energetic particles from 250-20,000 km. Naturally that varies at various levels as incoming particles are pulled into the magnetosphere.

Wow, a third belt! (1)

wakeboarder (2695839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051555)

Is it really a 'third' belt if it goes away and the other two don't. I guess third belt sounds way more exciting in the news than another radiation belt mode.

Van Halen belt ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43053129)

Wow, it rocks !

DLR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43062707)

This will be the Roth belt.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>