Several years ago scientists were surprised when the data from their Gamma-ray burst detectors were seeing Gamma-ray flashes that originated from terrestrial thunderstorms. Recent data indicates that these Gamma-ray flashes may come from a new mechanism, rather than conventional lightning flashes. Science@NASA produced a video to explain the new theory.
I found that the email link to email@example.com was not forwarding properly. It looks like it was broken in one of the past updates. It now works properly. My apologies to all those who tried to email me and thought I was ignoring them.
I’ve added a “SATELLITES” section to the “RESOURCES” menu that list the satellites that provide information of interest to Natural Radio listeners and Space Weather enthusiasts. Basic information on the satellite and it’s instrumentation are provided as well as a synopsis of available data. Links are provided to the appropriate websites for the satellite, that can provide data and more complete information.
Finally, I have uploaded the remainder of my 2012 articles from “The Lowdown”.
NASA has renamed the recently launched Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission as the Van Allen Probes in honor of the late Dr. James Van Allen. Van Allen was the head of the physics department at the University of Iowa who discovered the radiation belts encircling Earth in 1958. This was announced Friday during a ceremony at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. at a ceremony that also highlighted the spacecraft’s commissioning activities.
“James Van Allen was a true pioneer in astrophysics,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “His ground breaking research paved the way for current and future space exploration. These spacecraft now not only honor his iconic name but his mark on science.”
Van Allen helped develop the initial plans for an International Geophysical Year that took place in 1957. He was the principal investigator for the first successful American satellite, Explorer I, and continuing with Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, went on to be principal investigator on 24 Earth Satellite and planetary missions.
The Van Allen probes were launched on Aug. 30, 2012, and comprise the first dual-spacecraft mission specifically created to investigate the Van Allen belts that surround Earth. These two belts, encircle the planet and are filled with highly charged particles. The belts can sometimes swell dramatically, due to solar storms and coronal mass ejections. When this happens, they can disrupt communications, GPS satellites and pose a danger to human spaceflight activities.
For more information about NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission, visit:
The Radiation Belt Storm Probes that were launched on August 30, 2012, are nearing the completion of their 60-day commissioning period before beginning their prime mission. Nonetheless, interesting and useful data are being returned by the probes.
One of the instruments on these probes is the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS). This instrument is being managed by the University of Iowa Radio and Plasma Wave Group with Craig Kletzing being the principal investigator. The University of Iowa has a long history of involvement with the study of the magnetosphere, and was the home to Dr. James Van Allen who discovered the Van Allen Belts that RBSP is now probing.
EMFISIS monitors magnetic fields and plasma waves with three solenoids, oriented as if they were the 90-degree angles at the corner of a cube. Experiments in the past have only been able to monitor such waves in a single direction, but EMFISIS will measure E and H field components in all three directions as it also incorporates the electric field information gathered by the booms on the Electric Field and Wave Suite (EFW) instrument.
In essence, it’s a sophisticated Natural Radio receiver located within the radiation belts, far away from power-line interference and right near the source of the signals. These recordings are exceptionally clear for these reasons, plus the fact that the recordings are being made at 16-bit resolution, which was never done before within the radiation belts. Listen to the clarity of these first recordings! Here is a recording of chorus:
This is a whistler recorded from within the Van Allen Belts:
Both of these recordings are courtesy of NASA and the University of Iowa Radio and Plasma Wave Group. For more space sounds, you might want to check out Prof. Don Gurnett’s site at the University of Iowa: http://space-audio.org/
NASA’s RBSP was designed to help us understand the sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space by studying the Earth’s radiation belts on various scales of space and time.
The two RBSP spacecraft have nearly identical eccentric orbits and identical instrumentation. The orbits cover the entire radiation belt region and the two spacecraft lap each other several times over the course of the mission. With a spaced pair of satellites, RBSP can discriminate between spatial and temporal effects, and compare the effects of various proposed mechanisms for charged particle acceleration and loss.
Here are links to the mission pages for the RBSP:
After several months of converting and testing, the naturalradiolab.com site is now being run by WordPress. This will allow easy updating and modifications of the site along with the potential for a variety of new features. In short, I can spend more time writing articles and less time trying to make a difficult to use and bizarre interface format the data in a useful and attractive format. At least, that’s the theory.
Everything from the previous site should be present and functional, although I am expecting at least a couple of bugs, now that the site has gone live. I’d appreciate it, that if you find any problems or broken links you would email me at the address provided in the contact information.
Thanks to all of those at WordPress, present and past, who have contributed to the creation of this wonderful software.