Sci-tech

VLF bubble: Man-made barrier around Earth prevents plan high-energy space radiation

VLF bubble: Man-made barrier around Earth prevents plan high-energy space radiation

If there were no human VLF signals, the likely would likely stretch closer to Earth.

Researchers are testing whether VLF radiation could be used to rid the upper atmosphere of excess radiation.

NASA reports that very low-frequency radio waves may help shield Earth from risky cosmic weather events. And it is believed that the shield could potentially offer protection against CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections), massive explosions that emanate from the Sun, where plasmas and magnetic field are ejected from the Sun's corona, which is the outermost part of the star's atmosphere.

In a new study examining human-induced space weather, researchers found that the high-altitude explosions created an "extreme example" of phenomena typically caused by the sun.

Though these belts are invisible to the naked eye, the Teak nuclear bomb test near Hawaii was reported to have spawned auroras as far south as Western Samoa. Around the same time, the Apia Observatory in Western Samoa watched a profoundly uncommon aurora, which is regularly just seen in at the shafts.

Up until 1963, both the USA and Soviet governments conducted over 500 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. The barrier is an inadvertent layer in addition to the Van Allen electromagnetic belts and appears to act in the same fashion - shielding the planet from harmful radiation and the occasional risky solar flare.

And, the effects of the Argus tests, conducted at higher altitudes, could be seen around the world.

According to NASA, a human-made bubble of radio waves could be shielding Earth from radiation.

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. The findings - detailed in the journal Space Science Reviews - suggest VLF waves are pushing the Van Allen Belts outward.

The space agency's Van Allen Probe has detected an electron bubble around our planet, formed as a direct result of our activity on the ground.

Analysis of 1960s data indicates that the Van Allen radiation belt's inner limit was much closer to Earth than it is today, as VLF signals were used much less frequently.

Dan Baker from the University of Colorado in the U.S. coined this lower limit as the "impenetrable barrier" and speculates that if there were no human VLF transmissions, the boundary would likely stretch closer to Earth.

The particles remained trapped in these regions for weeks and, in one case, years, affecting electronic systems aboard high-flying satellites. These particles, natural and artificial, can affect electronics on high-flying satellites - in fact some failed as a result of the tests.


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