Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP)

The launch of an Atlas V carrying NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) payload was scrubbed today due to weather conditions associated with lightning, as well as cumulus and anvil clouds. With the unfavorable weather forecast as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, the leadership team has decided to roll the Atlas V vehicle back to the Vertical Integration Facility to ensure the launch vehicle and twin RBSP spacecraft are secured and protected from inclement weather. Pending approval from the range, the launch is rescheduled to Thursday, Aug. 30 at 4:05 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. SeeRBSP Launch Targeted for No Earlier Than Aug. 30

RBSP is being designed to help us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the Earth’s radiation belts on various scales of space and time. 

The instruments on NASA’s Living With a Star Program’s (LWS) Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission will provide the measurements needed to characterize and quantify the plasma processes that produce very energetic ions and relativistic electrons. The RBSP mission is part of the broader LWS program whose missions were conceived to explore fundamental processes that operate throughout the solar system and in particular those that generate hazardous space weather effects in the vicinity of Earth and phenomena that could impact solar system exploration. RBSP instruments will measure the properties of charged particles that comprise the Earth’s radiation belts, the plasma waves that interact with them, the large-scale electric fields that transport them, and the particle-guiding magnetic field. 

The two RBSP spacecraft will have nearly identical eccentric orbits. The orbits cover the entire radiation belt region and the two spacecraft lap each other several times over the course of the mission. The RBSP in situ measurements discriminate between spatial and temporal effects, and compare the effects of various proposed mechanisms for charged particle acceleration and loss. See: RBSP

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., prepare to place Radiation Belt Storm Probes spacecraft “B” in a thermal-vacuum chamber, where they can make sure the propulsion system will stand up to the range of hot, cold and airless conditions RBSP will face in outer space. This round of testing took place in late October-early November 2010.

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