The Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses, or BARREL, launched 20 instrument-laden balloons in the endless day of Antarctic summer. Now the team is home, and the photos of their flying plastic jellyfish exploring the sky for science are fantastic.
Earlier this year, NASA scientists discovered a “previously unknown surprise circling Earth” — an ephemeral third ring of radiation surrounding our planet. Now, some eight months later, UCLA scientists say they know what’s going on — and it’s unlike anything physicists have ever seen before.
Concentric rings of highly charged radiation encircle our planet, and we know surprisingly little about them. But once NASA completes a $686 million mission to launch a twin pair of space probes into the eye of this solar storm, the Van Allen belts should be much less of a mystery.