anyone ever heard of the vanallen radiation belt?
Is this what you are after Sierra?
THE VAN ALLEN ENIGMA
By Phylis and James Collier
In the early 1950's, a 35-year-old State University of Iowa physics professor and some of his students were cruising the cold waters of northern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean, sending a series ofrocket-carrying balloons- which they dubbed "rockoons" - 12 to 15 miles
They were trying to measure the nature of low-energy cosmic raysswirling around the earth. The experiments continued for five more years. Then, in 1958,Professor James Van Allen discovered his monster. Suddenly, his instrumentation warned of a giant beast of a thing, spewing enough deadly radiation counts to kill any human who ventured into its domain unprotected.
Van Allen and his students weren't sure of the size, shape and texture of the monster, they just knew they had encountered an incredible phenomenon.
Then, in l958, as part of the International Geophysical Year (a year in which men like James A. Van Allen were praised for exploring the realms of time and space) the young professor asked the U.S. military to send his experiments deeper into space, this time using a Geiger
Counter to measure the intensity of the radiation. He further requested the most sophisticated rockets that would penetrate l00,000 miles into space.
That's when the monster grew all encompassing. It appeared to surround the entire earth and extend out some 65,000 miles, maybe even 100,000 miles. The Geiger Counter confirmed that the region above the earth, and in the path of the rocket, was cooking with deadly radiation. That radiation was born from solar flares that would race through the universe and become trapped by the earth's magnetic field. A deadly mixture of protons and electrons.
It was then that Van Allen realized the Aurora Borealis, the northern lights, was actually a visual manifestation of that tremendous energy from the sun. You could actually see the radiation swirling in a magnificent and deadly dance. His eventual finding of two such lethal radiation belts, put his name in the history books as the man who discovered the Van Allen Radiation Belts. There was an inner belt and an outer belt. The inner belt went from 40 degrees north and south of the Equator and was basically a doughnut surrounding the earth. Scientific experiments conducted by Van Allen and the military proved that belt was so deadly that no human could survive in its orbit. The outer belt was equally as destructive, and separated from the inner belt by an area of lesser radiation.
Van Allen's conclusion was delivered in a speech to the Academy of Science in 1959. He warned future space travelers they would have to race through these two zones on their way to outer planets.
"All manned space flight attempts must steer clear of these two belts of radiation until adequate means of safeguarding the astronauts has been developed" he said. Moreover, Van Allen advised they would have to be shielded with some extra layers of protection beyond that of the spacecraft itself. These findings were also published in Scientific American Magazine, March, 1959.
Two years later, Van Allen updated his report in Space World Magazine, December, 1961. In brief, he reported that everything he had found in 1959 was still valid. It was also in that year that President John F. Kennedy told an assembled group of students and dignitaries at Rice University in Houston, that it was America's destiny to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. With that statement, the space race become a political game, worth 30 billion in taxpayer dollars to the winners. National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), which is part of the Department of Defense and the CIA, became the caretaker of Kennedy's dream.
It was their job to build a spacecraft that would meet Van Allen's scientific requirements of safety through the radiation belts. Van Allen stated that the ship's skin, made of aluminum, would not be enough protection for the astronauts. Extra shielding of lead or another substance that would absorb the radiation would be needed. That, of course, posed the problem of weight. More weight created a booster problem. In other words, they would need a bigger rocket to carry a ship that was properly lined against radiation penetration. One of the most interesting of Van Allen's findings was that once
protons and electrons hit the aluminum skin of the spacecraft, they would turn into x-rays. The kind the average dentist protects patients against with two inch lead vests. Those rays would naturally penetrate the astronaut's bodies and create anything from nausea and vomiting to eventual death, depending on the length of the exposure.
All of this scientific data presented a big problem for NASA. How could they build a spacecraft that would meet radiation standards and yet get off the ground?
The National Committee on Radiation Protection (NCRP) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) had established low "permissible doses" of radiation at levels that were
consistent with living on earth. However, where the critical dosage on earth might be 5 rems of radiation in a year, the astronauts would receive that amount within minutes passing through the lower zone of the radiation belt.
In order to penetrate Van Allen's belt, in l965 NASA requested the two regulatory groups modify the existing standards for space flight. It was simply a matter of "risk over gain" and NASA convinced them to change the standards and allow them to take the risk. Whether or not future astronauts would be advised of these dramatically lowered standards and substantial risk is unknown at this time.
The next problem NASA faced was the shielding of the spacecraft. It was solved in a report NASA issued in Aerospace Medicine Magazine in 1965 and 1969. The report was written prior to the first Apollo mission to the moon.
NASA announced that a simple aluminum skin on the command module was enough to protect astronauts from lethal doses of radiation. This conclusion was based on studies NASA had conducted. Now NASA had ingeniously solved their two basic problems, protection and weight. They had eliminated the danger of radiation penetration, along with the problem of radiation shielding and spacecraft weight. We telephoned North American Rockewell, the builder of the Command Module which carried the astronauts to the moon and back. They verified that the craft was not protected by any additional shielding.
It was at this point in our research that we realized the Van AllenReport had been seriously compromised by NASA. Professor Van Allen had become an icon in the scientific community for warning of radiation dangers. One of his most important tenets was that even if you raced quickly through the 65,000 mile belt, which starts 400 miles above the earth's surface (thus allowing for inner space travel) you would still need considerable additional shielding. Were his findings now bogus? We had to speak to Van Allen.
Professor James A. Van Allen now 83, is Professor Emeritus in Geophysics at the University of Iowa. Our first question was why he did not speak up after NASA's claimings and defend his original findings. Astonishingly, he told us that his seminal Scientific American article
in 1959 was merely "popular science."
"Are you refuting your findings?" we asked.
"Absolutely not," he answered, "I stand by them." In the next breath, Van Allen again acquiesced to NASA's point of view. He became positively mercurial in his answers. Basically he defended NASA's position that any material, even aluminum without shielding, was adequate to protect the astronauts from the radiation he once called deadly. When we asked him the point of his original warning about rushing through the Belt, he said, "It must have been a sloppy statement." So there we were, down the rabbit hole, chasing Van Allen through halls of mirrors. Was he taking the line of least resistance to government pressure? Was he trashing his own report in order not to be labeled a whistle blower? Could this renowned scientist actually be capable of a "sloppy statement" and blatant hyperbole published in ascientific journal?
If you don't believe we went to the moon, then you will say that NASA created the perfect cover story. It allowed them to continue receiving funding for a spacecraft they could not build, to enter a region of space they could not penetrate. If you believe we went to the moon, then you have to disregard Van Allen's years of research and published findings. You would also have to believe that aluminum, and not lead, is adequate protection against radiation in the very heart of the Belt. . .exactly the spot where Apollo rocket ships entered from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
it's a band that exists between the Earth and the Moon.
They are toroidal zones mostly surrounding the earth, formed by the earth's magnetic field, which hold charged particles emitted by the solar wind. They are a potential hazard to space travellers, as they subject anyone passing through them to a greatly increased radiation exposure.
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Some movie "Voyage to the bottom of the Sea"Then they made a T.V. series long,long time ago.
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