The following is an excerpt from Clara Moskowitz | August 9, 2012 | msnbc.com |
A pair of spacecraft in suits of armor will brave one of the toughest environments in space when they launch later this month to study radiation around Earth.
NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) will fly through the thick belts of charged particles that encircle our planet to try to understand these dynamic environments. To withstand the damage such harsh radiation can inflict, the satellites are shrouded in strong layers of shielding.
The $670 million twin probes are due to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:08 a.m. on Aug. 23. They will take up two slightly different orbits through the Van Allen radiation belts, regions of protons and electrons spewed out from the sun that have been trapped by Earth’s magnetic field.
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