A New Source of Space Radiation

Posted: August 11, 2019 by oldbrew in Electro-magnetism, research, solar system dynamics
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More electromagnetic goings-on near Earth’s outer fringes.

Spaceweather.com

August 9, 2019: Astronauts are surrounded by danger: hard vacuum, solar flares, cosmic rays. Researchers from UCLA have just added a new item to the list. Earth itself.

“A natural particle accelerator only 40,000 miles above Earth’s surface is producing ‘killer electrons’ moving close to the speed of light,” says Terry Liu, a newly-minted PhD who studied the phenomenon as part of his thesis with UCLA Prof. Vassilis Angelopoulos.

This means that astronauts leaving Earth for Mars could be peppered by radiation coming at them from behind–from the direction of their own home planet.

earthrise_crop

NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft ran across the particles in 2008 not far from the place where the solar wind slams into Earth’s magnetic field. Researchers have long known that shock waves at that location could accelerate particles to high energies–but not this high. The particles coming out of the Earth-solar wind interface have energies up to 100,000…

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Comments
  1. Gamecock says:

    Why weren’t Apollo astronauts affected?

  2. ivan says:

    You are not supposed to ask questions like that.

  3. oldbrew says:

    I don’t know for sure, but as radiation exposure is more of an issue on longer flights maybe the Apollo astronauts just weren’t ‘out there’ for long enough for the exposure to matter much, given whatever protection they did have.

  4. Adam Gallon says:

    “Gamecock says:
    August 12, 2019 at 1:57 am
    Why weren’t Apollo astronauts affected?”
    Very simple answer.
    Think where the Moon was, when the Apollo astronauts were visiting it, then compare to where these electrons are being emitted.

  5. hunterson7 says:

    40000 miles, about ~65000 kms, implies this is another part of the well studied Van Allen belts.
    Spacecraft passing through the region at escape velocity would be exposed for a few minutes.
    This sounds more like a newly issued PhD trying to tout his work.

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