NASA has revealed new findings related to the long-term behavior of the Earth’s ring current the space agency says carries electricity, encircles the planet and affects satellites.
The space agency’s Van Allen Probes found that the high-energy and low-energy protons in the ring current change in a way different from one another as opposed to previous understanding, NASA partner Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory said Thursday.
The findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters and show that some particles wane over time while other particles remain consistent, APL said.
Researchers used the Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment tool to gather data about the long-term behavior of the ring current.
“We study the ring current because, for one thing, it drives a global system of electrical currents both in space and on Earth’s surface, which during intense geomagnetic storms can cause severe damages to our technological systems,” said Matina Gkioulidou, a space physicist at APL and lead author of the study.
“It also modifies the magnetic field in the near-Earth space, which in turn controls the motion of the radiation belt particles that surround our planet,” added Gkioulidou.
JHUAPL operates the Van Allen Probes, launched in 2012, for NASA’s science mission directorate.