NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), the first twin-spacecraft mission designed to explore our planet’s energetic radiation belts, launched into the predawn skies at 4:05a.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Each spacecraft contain a set of identical instruments to investigate how the Earth’s radiation belts are populated with charged particles, what causes them to change in response to solar wind variability and how these processes affect the upper reaches of the atmosphere around Earth. The information collected from these probes will benefit the public by allowing us to better protect our satellites and understand how space weather affects communications and technology on Earth.
Professor Richard Thorne of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences department at UCLA has been involved in the mission for the last 12 years, first as a member of the Mission Definition Team and later as Co-I and Theory lead on two key instruments to measure the energetic particles and waves in the Earth near space environment. His research group at UCLA will be directly involved with the analysis of data from various instruments and in providing theoretical and modeling support to the mission.
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