“The high-energy particles run into some kind of a barrier
that we were not expecting. That barrier is remarkably stable.”
- Phillip Erickson, Ph.D., MIT Haystack Observatory
December 19, 2014 Westford, Massachusetts- In the November 27, 2014, issue of the science journal, Nature, NASA announced a surprising discovery hidden inside the two Van Allen radiation belts. The huge irony is that the Van Allen belts that range from 600 to 25,000 miles above the Earth, and were discovered in 1958 by physicist James Van Allen, are full of highly energetic particles of solar radiation and cosmic rays. The dangerous “killer electrons” in the Van Allen belts travel faster than 100,000 miles per second and would seriously damage satellites or humans trapped in those belts. And yet at 7,200 miles up, scientists have found an invisible, impenetrable barrier that is keeping the killer electrons from getting to the Earth's surface. And so far, no one understands exactly how the “invisible brick wall” protecting Earth got there.
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