NASA launches twin probes to study radiation belt.
On August 30, 2012 the "Atlas-5” rocket-carrier was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA. The launch was performed by United Launch Alliance supported by the 45th Space Wing of US Air Force. The rocket orbited two NASA's RBSP (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) satellites. The two satellites are the first dual-spacecraft mission created to investigate the hazardous regions of near-Earth space, known as the radiation belts. These two belts, named for their discoverer, James Van Allen, encircle the planet and are filled with highly charged particles. The belts are affected by solar storms and coronal mass ejections and sometimes swell dramatically. When this occurs, they can pose dangers to communications, GPS satellites and human spaceflight. The RBSP satellites will spend the next two years looping through every part of both Van Allen belts. By having two spacecraft in different regions of the belts at the same time, scientists finally will be able to gather data from within the belts themselves, learning how they change over space and time.