Monitoring the Van Allen Belts Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard describes the Van Allen Belts, which are donut-shaped clouds of radiation that surround the Earth.
The clouds are made of helium, oxygen, and wild protons and electrons. When these particles move at a fast pace, radiation is formed that can interfere with our technology and communication. Monitoring the Van Allen Belts Can you see the Van Allen radiation belt? Although images of the Van Allen radiation belts make them look visible and colorful, this is actually just a representation.
The radiation belts themselves are so dilute that astronauts don’t even see or feel them when they are outside in their spacesuits. Explorer 1 and Explorer 3 confirmed the existence of the belt in early 1958 under James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. The trapped radiation was first mapped by Explorer 4, Pioneer 3, and Luna 1 . The term Van Allen belts refers specifically to the radiation belts surrounding Earth; however, similar radiation belts have been discovered.
In 2012, NASA launched the Van Allen Probes to study how these radiation belts change in intensity and size.
Video Credit: NASA Goddard