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Engineering the Van Allen Belts

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This article proposes a pretty crazy sounding idea - remove the Van Allen Belts.

Simplified Explanatory Summary: The Van Allen Belts are a natural phenomenon, electrons and protons flying around the Earth at high speed. Electrical current is essentially electrons moving around, so when astronauts or satellites pass through these regions the effect is shocking. Passing through the proton regions is even worse because they’re comparatively mass-ive. Electrons and protons are normally flying around in space, but these ones are trapped by Earth’s magnetic field.

Some scientists figured out a way to pull the electrons down into Earth’s atmosphere by emitting low pitch radio waves, but there are some problems. The low pitch waves get trapped close to Earth by our atmosphere. Actually, they get trapped by the same part of our atmosphere that let’s us hear AM radio when you’re very far from the station. The scientists think they could emit the radio waves from satellites, but it’d be tough.

One scientist chick thinks we can emit different radio waves from satellites to take care of the protons. She’d also pull them down into the atmosphere. It’s all too early to tell if it’d work, and what the effects on earth would be.

What if the belts protect Earth from some solar radiation? What if they protect us from some kind of cosmic radiation? By removing the belts we’d solve problems for satellites and space travel, but we might cause other problems. Scientists think it’s unlikely, but also say that it’s too early to tell for sure.

In any case, it’s cool to think that we might build what is essentially a dam in space, not for water but for invisible particles that cause trouble in modern life.