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This is a drawing of the Earth and its radiation belts.
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The Discovery of the Radiation Belts

In 1957, Russia launched Sputnik 1, the first spacecraft to ever be launched. Americans wanted to send up a satellite too. They sent up Explorer I.

Even though this was America's first satellite, Explorer I made a huge discovery. Explorer I made measurements that helped Dr. Van Allen discover the radiation belts.

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Cool It! Game

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Sputnik

The Soviet Sputnik program consisted of four satellites, three of which reached Earth orbit. Sputnik 1, launched on Oct.4, 1957, became the first artificial satellite to successfully orbit the Earth. It...more

Radiation Belts

You may have seen a spider web catch bugs in it. Well, the Earth's magnetic field is kind of like a spider's web. It catches particles (protons and electrons) in it. The Earth's magnetic field catches...more

The Earth as a Magnet

The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded by the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere keeps most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar...more

The Discovery of the Radiation Belts

In 1957, Russia launched Sputnik 1, the first spacecraft to ever be launched. Americans wanted to send up a satellite too. They sent up Explorer I. Even though this was America's first satellite, Explorer...more

Earth's Magnetic Poles

Earth has a magnetic field. If you imagine a gigantic bar magnet inside of Earth, you'll have a pretty good idea what Earth's magnetic field is shaped like. Of course, Earth DOESN'T have a giant bar magnet...more

Earth's North Magnetic Pole

Earth has a magnetic field with a north pole and a south pole. Earth's magnetic field is pretty much like the magnetic field around a bar magnet. Earth's North Magnetic Pole (NMP) is not in the same place...more

Altocumulus

Altocumulus clouds are part of the Middle Cloud group. They are grayish-white with one part of the cloud darker than the other. Altocumulus clouds usually form in groups. Altocumulus clouds are about...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA