NASA Has Discovered An Impenetrable Shield Surrounding Earth

Earth is surrounded by Van Allen radiation belts zones of highly charged particles. Researchers recently discovered that the particles from nuclear tests were lofted into belts circling the Earth, causing geomagnetic storms and even damaging a few satellites.

When these frequencies interact with the high energy radiation particles in space, it forms a shield that can help protect us from risky space weather. These are all names of nuclear tests the USA ran in the 1950s and '60s. At times, these interactions can create a barrier around Earth against natural high-energy particle radiation in space.

By understanding how human-caused geomagnetic disturbances impact our atmosphere, space agencies hope to better understand how to protect astronauts in Low Earth Orbit from the impacts of space weather, too. This area of the Earth's magnetosphere prevents life-threatening high-energy charged particles to the planet.

"A number of experiments and observations have figured out that, under the right conditions, radio communications signals in the VLF frequency range can, in fact, affect the properties of the high-energy radiation environment around the Earth", Phil Ericson, assistant director at the MIT Haystack Observatory in MA, said in a NASA statement. If similar tests were carried out today, scientists say it would cause $600bn (£460bn) to $2.6tn in damages to the USA alone and would stall much of the internet taking down all satellite communications, and knocking out most of the global electricity grid.

This means, human beings are not just contributing to the alterations of Earth and its climate so severely, but also are having a significant influence on the space weather. Watching how the tests brought about aurora, can give understanding into what the normal auroral components are as well.

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"A number of experiments and observations have figured out that, under the right conditions, radio communications signals in the VLF frequency range can, in fact, affect the properties of the high-energy radiation environment around the Earth", Phil Erickson from the MIT Haystack Observatory in MA said in a statement.

The tests conducted by the U.S. and USSR involved exploding nuclear weapons at 16 to 250 miles above the surface.

The Teak test, conducted on August 1, 1958, was eminent for the simulated aurora that came about. The vivacious particles discharged by the test likely took after Earth's magnetic field lines to the Polynesian island country, initiating the aurora. Scientists contend that if the VLF bubble did not exist, the boundary of the radiation belts would be far closer to the Earth than they now are.

'The tests were a human-generated and extreme example of some of the space weather effects frequently caused by the sun, ' said Phil Erickson, assistant director at MIT's Haystack Observatory.

  • Douglas Reid