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back to article NASA launches armoured storm probes to the Van Allen belts

NASA has successfully launched two Radiation Belt Storm Probes into Earth's orbit to start a two-year mission to study the two giant donuts of plasma trapped in radiation surrounding the planet. Graphic of Earth's Van Allen radiation belts The heavily shielded satellites blasted off from Cape Canaveral at 9.05am BST this …

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Seems to be a more interesting and optimistic time for space exploration at the moment than we've seen recently - would like some progress on manned missions too though.

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Especially progress on ESA manned-mission plans...

Don't forget, the EU economy is MUCH larger than US, Russia, China economies. You need to get ESA moving on these initiatives that matter to citizens.

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Coat

No will.i.am with this mission I hope...

Mine's the one with the earplugs in the pocket...

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Re: No will.i.am with this mission I hope...

Tell us whats on your personal playlist so we can be sure to accommodate...

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Coat

Re: No will.i.am with this mission I hope...

No need. That stuff sounds ok when played in a vacuum.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No will.i.am with this mission I hope...

Onboard is probably the best place for him. He is small enough to not add much launch weight and nobody would actually miss him.

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If I ever met him....

Then I would just have to call him William just to annoy him :-) What a pretentious load of old tosh eh?

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Thumb Up

Re: If I ever met him....

Almost as bad as the artist formerly known as Prince. If I ever met him I'd call him Dickhead, honestly that's how I thought that the symbol was pronounced!

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Heavily Shielded for Radiation Protection

hmmm. I wonder how NASA sent those astronuts to the moon in the 60's in a spacecraft with 1/8 inch aluminum skin..... something doesnt make sense.

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Re: Heavily Shielded for Radiation Protection

The Van Allen belts don't take long to fly through.

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Re: Heavily Shielded for Radiation Protection

Fact Check. The Van Allen belts themselves are MUCH more dangerous than normal deepspace. Apollo astronauts were expected to stay in the command module for most of the trip.

When they did use the LEM (inferred from your 'skin' reference), they were certainly much-less-shielded than in the command module.

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Boffin

Re: Heavily Shielded for Radiation Protection

"Fact Check. The Van Allen belts themselves are MUCH more dangerous than normal deepspace. Apollo astronauts were expected to stay in the command module for most of the trip."

Absolutely. It is also a fact all Apollo astronauts took a calculated *substantial* risk that no major solar flare would hit them to or from the Moon (and since all trips were taken during a lunar day you'd get hit badly on the Moon in the LM).

I think the trouble is there has been *relatively* little surveying of the Van Allen belts over the years. I'm not sure if there have ever been more than one satellite on orbit at one time.

This sort of information in interesting in it's own right but could also help with making low thrust maneuvers more viable. This would be a *major* benefit to anyone launching a comm sat with a station keeping ion engine. Avoiding the need for an Apogee Kick Motor (roughly 25-33% of payload weight) would either mean a smaller launch vehicle ($ saved) or more station keeping propellant and/or more transponders -> bigger $$.

And it might help re-size the radiation shielding on the NASA MPCV

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Holmes

Re: Heavily Shielded for Radiation Protection

IIRC the Apollo missions didn't pass through the van Allen belt, but departed through the hole in the doughnut.

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Re: Heavily Shielded for Radiation Protection

Proper doughnuts don't have holes. They have jam.

Thinks: It's home made doughnut Friday at the coffee shop next to the office. Mmmm doughnuts!

We don't appear to have a 'stuffing your face like a greedy piggy' icon, I think we need one.

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Trajectory details....

http://www.braeunig.us/apollo/apollo11-TLI.htm

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Alien

"The probes are also equipped with metal shielding and data filters to protect against interference."

So the aliens are here then! The Van Allen belts are the wake from the plasma drive of the ships that use our solar system as a rat run. Clearly NASA want more information on this, but are worried about the aliens trying to corrupt the data with viruses.

The only real worry is if the Hyperspace Planning Council decide that all this traffic is disturbing the locals, and so decide to build a hyperspace bypass.

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