The mysteries of the Van Allen Belts
[Image Source: Nature World News, Andy Kale, University of Alberta]
In 1958, US satellite Explorer 1 transmitted valuable information about radiation back from above the Earth. Professor James Van Allen discovered a group of charged particles which were creating two distinct belts of radiation. These belts appeared to be protecting the planet from harmful space particles and are now known as the Van Allen radiation belts. Scientists wanted to know more about it and that’s when things got weird.
[Image Source: Daily Mail]
They sit in a toroidal or donut shape around the planet but the mysteries about what gives Van Allen’s belts their shape is one of the big questions still being researched today.