About RBSP

Science Payload on RBSP

ECT Science Operations

The ECT Team

Science Friday

RBSP Finds Natural Particle
   Accelerator, Mar. 1, 2013,
   on NPR's Science Friday

RBSP Quick Facts
    Aug. 30, 2012
    Kennedy Space Ctr.
    Launch info...
 • Renamed in honor of
    James Van Allen on
    Nov. 9, 2012. More Info…
 • Johns Hopkins APL
    built and will operate
    the twin RBSP spacecraft
 • Science payload:
    5 instruments
    – ECT
    – EFW
    – RPS
 • Mission duration: 2 yrs.
 • Twin spacecraft will fly
    nearly identical orbits
    covering the entire
    radiation belt region

Related Links
   - RBSP at NASA
   - RBSP at APL

nasa logo

About the Van Allen Probes Mission

RBSP image
  Artist's rendering of the radiation belts
with RBSP spacecraft

The Van Allen Probes mission, initially named the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission, or RBSP, was designed to 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. The radiation belts, discovered by astrophysicist James Van Allen, are a toroidal-shaped region of the magnetosphere where energetic electrons and ions are held in place by magnetic fields. This is an area of intense space weather, causing serious safety risks to astronauts and spacecraft.

Most satellites orbit through the radiation belts, and even the International Space Station orbit skims the radiation belts. While space missions typically avoid this region, the twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes will spend all of their time there. The RBSP satellites will quantify the processes that generate the radiation belts and cause them to change.

The Applied Physics Laboratory built and will operate the twin RBSP spacecraft, or "probes." In order to observe changes in the radiation belts through both space and time, each probe carries an identical suite of science instruments.


Each probe's science payload has five instruments:

These instruments provide measurements needed to characterize and quantify the processes that produce the relativistic ions and electrons in the radiation belts. They measure the properties of these charged particles, the plasma waves that interact with them, the large-scale electric fields that transport them, and the magnetic field that guides them.