(Image: Illustration of two NASA probes set to explore Earth's radiation belts. Credit: NASA)
Even though there are approximately 83 colony worlds within our solar system, many of these worlds orbit gas giants who unfortunately bathe their lunar children in deadly radiation.
In an attempt to understand these radiation belts, NASA is launching probes in order to gain more information regarding Earth's radiation belt.
(Astrobiology Magazine) NASA will launch two identical probes into the radiation belts to provide unprecedented insight into the physical dynamics of near-Earth space, where violent space weather can affect astronauts, satellites and even ground-based technologies. Data collected by the probes will aid in the development of future space missions beyond Earth orbit. [...]
"The radiation belts were a scientific curiosity when they were discovered 50 years ago by James Van Allen, who was one of the founding members of APL," said Barry Mauk, project scientist for RBSP. "But the belts are becoming very important because we have people and machines operating in them. That region of space is now part of our technology infrastructure. If we can understand the radiation belt environment and its variability, we can apply this knowledge to improve our spacecraft operation and system design, mission planning and astronaut safety."
Understanding these radiation belts could aid in humanity establishing colonies upon Ganymede, Saturn's icy ring moons, and Neptune's Triton, who orbit within their respective planets radiation belts.
While future settlers would probably have to live within Aquarium homes (guarded by magnetic shields), this research could teach us how to survive upon these rugged spheres instead of limiting ourselves to living upon radiation safe worlds.
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