Van Allen radiation
Riley, Pete Predictive Science, Inc., San Diego, California.
Walt, Martin Research and Development, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Palo Alto, California.
Last reviewed:August 2020
- Motion of charged particles
- Trapped particle populations
- Earth's ring current
- Time variations
- Artificial radiation belts
- Origin and loss of trapped particles
- Relation to other phenomena
- Radiation belts of other planets
- Space weather and radiation belts
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The high-energy, charged particles that are trapped into orbits by the geomagnetic field, forming radiation belts that surround the Earth. The belts consist primarily of electrons and protons and extend from a few hundred kilometers above the Earth to a distance of about 8 Re (Re = radius of Earth = 6371 km = 3959 mi). James Van Allen and coworkers discovered them in 1958 using radiation detectors carried on satellites Explorer 1 and 3, and they are often referred to as the Van Allen belts.
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