NETS 2015 Call for Papers is Out

The Nuclear and Emerging Technology for Space or NETS conference is an annual conference that is at the heart of the space nuclear community. The conference this year is at the Albuquerque Marriott in February 23-26. The call for abstracts is up and the due date is October 31. Learn more at the official NETS 2015...

Space Radiation – Interplanetary Radiation Belts

Written by: Megan Wetegrove In this post, planetary radiation belts are introduced, with special emphasis on Earth’s planetary radiation belts – the Van Allen Belts. Requirements for Planetary Radiation Belts In order for a radiation belt to form around a planet, the planet must have a magnetic field. This magnetic field is able to deflect charged particles that are traveling in the planet’s direction. The area around the planet in which the magnetic field is able to control particles is called the magnetosphere. When a magnetosphere is present around a planet, most space radiation directed at the planet is deflected. Below is an image of Earth’s magnetic field deflecting charged particles from the Sun. Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Magnetosphere_rendition.jpg A planet’s magnetic field is able to offer the planet a great amount of protection from charged particles. At the same time, the presence of a magnetic field gives rise to planetary radiation belts on account of the field trapping a number of charged particles along magnetic field lines. Consequently, these particles form donut-shaped ‘belts’ around the planet. Currently, Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are surrounded by trapped radiation. Venus and Mars do not have magnetic fields; thus, these planets are not able to trap charged particles. The Van Allen Belts The Van Allen belts are two planetary radiation belts surrounding Earth. The belts are donut-shaped crescents that do not extend as far as Earth’s poles. The inner belt, extending from approximately 400 km to 18,400 km (measured from the equator) consists mainly of electrons with maximum energy of 10 MeV. Electron fluxes with energies greater than 2 MeV peak...