University of Cambridge > > British Antarctic Survey > Human control of the Radiation Belts. Protecting satellites from "terrorists" with nuclear weapons

Human control of the Radiation Belts. Protecting satellites from "terrorists" with nuclear weapons

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Deb Shoosmith.

In the last 10 years there has been increasing discussion as to practical human control of the energetic electron population in the radiation belts. This primarily comes from the perception that numerous valuable spacecraft might be endangered by injections of highly energetic electrons into the inner belt, and the realisation that such an injection could occur through a military or “terrorist” act (although smaller-scale injections can also take place in very large geomagnetic storms). Hence some US and European researchers have been investigating approaches to vastly increase the loss of these relativistic electrons, dumping them into the Earth’s atmosphere. The manmade control of the Van Allen belts has been termed “Radiation Belt Remediation” (RBR).

In this seminar I will discuss the reasoning behind RBR -systems, and consider the atmospheric implications of the operation of such a system. I will go on to show that experimental measurements demonstrating that some powerful radio communications transmitters are currently driving the loss of quite high energy electrons into the atmosphere. These observations also point to the difficultly of building an operational RBR -system.

My seminar is based on work which was selected as NERC science highlight for the 2006/2007 period.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey series.

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