Science Past

From Science News Letter, May 10, 1958

The first reports on findings from the first two U.S. satellites have been announced.… They included: A mysterious radiation … at heights greater than 600 miles above the earth’s surface.… Dr. [James] Van Allen and his colleagues at the State University of Iowa calculate that if the satellite’s cosmic ray geiger tube had not been jammed by an intense radiation field, it would have registered at least 35,000 counts per second. They believe this radiation is closely related to the soft radiation previously detected during rocket flights in the auroral zone.… The energy of this radiation, they suggest, may contribute significantly to the heating of the high atmosphere. The particles causing it are believed to be initially associated with huge masses of ionized gas encountered by the earth in its journey through space.

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