Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Twenty NASA balloons studying the radiation belts

Date:
February 5, 2013
Source:
NASA
Summary:
In the bright, constant sun of the Antarctic summer, a NASA-funded team is launching balloons. There are twenty of these big, white balloons, each of which sets off on a different day for a leisurely float around the South Pole to collect information about something far more speedy: the rain of particles that can precipitate out of two gigantic donuts around Earth known as the radiation belts.

Scientists race through the Antarctic snow to launch one of 20 balloons as part of NASA's BARREL (Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses) mission. Each balloon is equipped with instruments to help track how electrons from giant radiation belts surrounding Earth travel down magnetic field lines toward the poles.
Credit: NASA/S. Spain

In the bright, constant sun of the Antarctic summer, a NASA-funded team is launching balloons. There are twenty of these big, white balloons, each of which sets off on a different day for a leisurely float around the South Pole to collect information about something far more speedy: the rain of particles that can precipitate out of two gigantic donuts around Earth known as the radiation belts.

The mission -- called BARREL (Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses) -- is led by Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. BARREL works in conjunction with NASA's Van Allen Probes, two spacecraft currently orbiting around Earth to study the belts, which are also known as the Van Allen Belts. Both the probes and the belts are named after James Van Allen who originally discovered them in 1958.

Together the two missions are trying to track where radiation goes when it escapes the belts -- up or down? The charged particles within the belts can damage sensitive electronics on spacecraft like those used for global positioning systems and communications, and can be harmful to humans in space. (The electrons don't make it all the way to Earth, so pose no danger to those of us on the ground.) The Van Allen Probes are observing how the particles behave in the radiation belts themselves, while BARREL can watch to see how and when the particles course down magnetic fields toward the South Pole. Working together, the two missions will track how the particles move.

"We have daily phone calls from Antarctica with the Van Allen Probes team to coordinate," says Robyn Millan, the principal investigator for BARREL at Dartmouth. "We look at where their spacecraft are relative to the balloons and make decisions about what data to download from the spacecraft to compare to our data."

After they've launched their 20 balloons, the scientists will go home to analyze the vast amount of BARREL observations and compare it to the information collected by the probes. And then the team will get ready to do the process all over again with 20 more balloons next year.

In addition to Dartmouth, the BARREL mission is supported by scientists from University of California-Berkeley, the University of Washington and University of California-Santa Cruz. Field operations are being conducted at the British research station Halley VI and the South African research station, SANAE IV. In addition to NASA and National Science Foundation support, the campaigns are supported by the National Environmental Research Council in the United Kingdom and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Twenty NASA balloons studying the radiation belts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205122649.htm>.
NASA. (2013, February 5). Twenty NASA balloons studying the radiation belts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205122649.htm
NASA. "Twenty NASA balloons studying the radiation belts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130205122649.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) At least six Nepalese guides are dead after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins