Aerospace Participates in NASA Van Allen Belt Research Project

The instruments on NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission will provide the measurements needed to characterize and quantify the plasma processes that produce very energetic ions and relativistic electrons. The RBSP mission is part of the broader Living With a Star program whose missions were conceived to explore fundamental processes that operate throughout the solar system and in particular those that generate hazardous space weather effects in the vicinity of Earth and phenomena that could impact solar system exploration. RBSP instruments will measure the properties of charged particles that comprise the Earth’s radiation belts, the plasma waves that interact with them, the large-scale electric fields that transport them, and the particle-guiding magnetic field.

The two RBSP spacecraft will have nearly identical eccentric orbits. The orbits cover the entire Van Allen radiation belt region and the two spacecraft lap each other several times over the course of the mission. The RBSP in situ measurements discriminate between spatial and temporal effects, and compare the effects of various proposed mechanisms for charged particle acceleration and loss.