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Contact: James E. Rickman
jamesr@lanl.gov
505-665-9203
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

Electron Acceleration within Earth's Van Allen Radiation Belts

Caption: An artist's rendering of a mechanism within the Van Allen radiation belts that can accelerate electrons to satellite-killing energies. The mechanism was discovered by a group of scientists using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes (formerly known as the Radiation Belt Storm Probes). Researchers, led by Los Alamos National laboratory space physicist Geoffrey Reeves, believe that electromagnetic waves within the Van Allen belts themselves can accelerate the electrons to near light speed, giving them energy levels that can be lethal to satellites. The research may some day help make space weather forecasting possible and accurate so satellites can be better protected.

Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Related news release: Van Allen Probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons


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