NASA to Discuss Mission to Earth's Radiation Belt Thursday

The two RBSP spacecraft will help study the Van Allen Radiation belts that surround Earth.
The two RBSP spacecraft will help study the Van Allen Radiation belts that surround Earth. (Image credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

Two soon-to-launch NASA probes designed to study the radiation belts around planet Earth are the topic of a NASA press conference to be held Thursday (Aug. 9).

The Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) will spend two years studying Earth's Van Allen radiation belts, regions of charged particles trapped in corridors around our planet by Earth's magnetic field.

The probes are due to lift off into orbit no earlier than 4:08 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft are to be carried by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The Van Allen radiation belts, named after American space scientist James Van Allen, who discovered them, are part the space weather environment around Earth. Space weather includes the dynamic environment of charged particles released from the sun in the solar wind. These particles, mostly electrons and protons, can interfere with satellites in orbit and even power grids on the ground.

NASA scientists will preview the mission in a news briefing Thursday 2 p.m. EDT, which will be broadcast live on NASA TV. Presenters at the event will include:

  • Madhulika Guhathakurta, Living With a Star program scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Mona Kessel, RBSP program scientist, NASA Headquarters
  • Barry Mauk, RBSP project scientist, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Md.
  • Rick Fitzgerald, RBSP project manager, APL, Laurel, Md.

You can watch NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probe briefing live on NASA TV here:

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