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The Van Allen Belts are a pair of zones where high-energy particles blasted out by the Sun become entangled in the Earth's magnetosphere, forming a pair of fluctuating bands that encircle the Earth. Should the belts fluctuate into the path of an orbiting satellite, their energetic particles can easily fry the satellite's electronics -- like a natural EMP. "The conventional wisdom is that the inner edge of the outer belt kind of moves in and out as the atmosphere—especially ionosphere and plasmasphere—grows and shrinks," says Phil Erickson, a space plasma physicist at MIT, told Popular Science . Well, recent observations from the Van Allen Probes, a pair of heavily shielded spacecraft ... Full story

7 days ago, 19 May