HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission is coming to and end; they are entering one final mission.
An exciting mission in space is coming to a close. NASA'S Van Allen Probes launched in 2012.
Since then, the two probes have survived the dangers of space and have made fascinating discoveries about our own planet.
The mission is named after an American space scientist who launched a probe into space in 1958. That probe discovered two radiation belts encircling our planet. The goal is to study these belts even further.
The Van Allen radiation belts as they are known, are good at showing us how our planet is responding to what is coming at us from the sun. One example of this would be radiation. In order to observe the belt the probes rely on each other
Dr. Niki Fox, a scientist for NASA discuses this further.
"They kind of chase one another. In a very highly elliptical orbit, a bit like the petals of a flower. Going close to the earth one side and cutting through the inner radiation belt and then moving all they way out on the other side and traversing through the outer radiation belt"
During a large solar storm a fascinating discovery was made, a third radiation belt appeared. This new belt persisted for roughly a month. This discovery showed scientists how dynamic our radiation belts are as radiation hits our planet..
Each spacecraft will be moved to a lower orbit for the final mission.
This allow the probes to dig deeper into the radiation belt. This will also provide more information on how oxygen breaks down satellite instruments.