In the clean room high bay at the Astrotech payload processing facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Applied Physics Laboratory technicians prepare to lift NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probe A, wrapped in a protective shroud, from the bottom of its shipping container. Prelaunch preparations and spacecraft testing will follow.
The Radiation Belt Storm Probes, or RBSP, mission will help us understand the sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space by studying the Earth’s radiation belts on various scales of space and time. RBSP instruments will provide the measurements needed to characterize and quantify the plasma processes that produce very energetic ions and relativistic electrons. The mission is part of NASA’s broader Living With a Star Program that was conceived to explore fundamental processes that operate throughout the solar system, particularly those that generate hazardous space weather effects in the vicinity of Earth and phenomena that could impact solar system exploration. RBSP will begin its mission of exploration of Earth's Van Allen radiation belts and the extremes of space weather after launch. Launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled for August 23. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rbsp. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann