Inside the Astrotech payload processing facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians deploy the solar arrays and magnetometer boom of the Radiation Belt Storm Probes, or RBSP, spacecraft A. Deploying these components is standard procedure to ensure they work properly on Earth before they head into space.
NASA’s 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. As the spacecraft orbits Earth, the four solar panels will continuously face the sun to provide constant power to its instruments. The boom will provide data of the electric fields that energize radiation particles and modify the structure of the inner magnetosphere. RBSP will begin its mission of exploration of Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and the extremes of space weather after its launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Launch is targeted for Aug. 23. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rbsp. Photo credit: NASA/Charisse Nahser