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NASA's Van Allen Probe Mission in Pictures

Atlas 5 Rocket Carrying Radiation Belt Storm Probes

United Launch Alliance/Pat Corkery

An unmanned United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is readied to launch NASA's twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission on Aug. 24, 2012, from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Radiation Belt Storm Probes: Artist's View

JHU/APL, NASA

The identical Radiation Belt Storm Probes will follow similar orbits that will take them through both the inner and outer radiation belts. The highly elliptical orbits range from a minimum altitude of approximately 373 miles (600 kilometers) to a maximum altitude of approximately 23,000 miles (37,000 kilometers).

Simulated Radiation Belts

NASA

In this 1966 photo, a plasma thruster at NASA's Lewis Research Center simulates Van Allen Belts, rings of radiation around the Earth. The Cleveland, Ohio, center is now John H. Glenn Research Center.

United Launch Alliance Atlas 5

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket stands ready for launch at Space Launch Complex-41 with NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) satellite. Launch is set for Friday, Aug. 24 at 4:07 a.m. EDT.

How the Van Allen Radiation Belt Probes Work (Infographic)

Karl Tate/SPACE.com

NASA's Van Allen Belts probes (formerly called the Radiation Storm Belt Probes) mission will study Earth's radiation belts, the Van Allen Belts, like never before. See how they work in this Space.com infographic.

United Launch Alliance Atlas 5

Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket stands ready for launch at Space Launch Complex-41 with NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) satellite. Launch is set for Friday, Aug. 24 at 4:07 a.m. EDT.

Atlas 5 Payload

NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

The Atlas 5 payload fairing containing the RBSP spacecraft is lifted at Space Launch Complex-41, where the booster awaits.

Van Allen Belts

NASA/T. Benesch, J. Carns

Two giant donuts of charged particles called the Van Allen Belts surround Earth. These radiation belts will be explored by NASA's twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission.

Radiation Belt Storm Astrotech

NASA/Kim Shiflett

Technicians at the Astrotech payload processing facility prepare the RBSP spacecraft for encapsulation in the payload fairing.

Spacecraft A

NASA/Charisse Nahser

Spacecraft A, one of two Radiation Belt Storm Probes, is checked for proper balance during a spin test.

RBSP Team Group Portrait

RB Storm Probes (via Twitter as @RBStormProbes)

The stacked RBSP spacecraft were encapsulated on August 6, 2012. The RBSP team posed for a final group photo.

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