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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
This is an artist's conception of the Earth and the inner and outer radiation belts that surround it.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe

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 so many protons and electrons that it forms rings around the Earth. Scientists call these rings radiation belts.

The radiation belts can be dangerous to humans, animals and electronic equipment. So planes, satellites, the space shuttle and space stations never stay long in the radiation belts...they just quickly pass through them if they have to!

The radiation belts were discovered by James Van Allen in 1958.

Last modified May 27, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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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