Space science: Near-Earth space shows its stripes
Using some of the first scientific satellites put into orbit during the late 1950s, teams led by physicists James Van Allen in the United States and Sergei Vernov in the Soviet Union independently reported1, 2 on defined regions of radiation in near-Earth space. These regions came to be known as Earth\textquoterights radiation belts, and they represent the first major scientific discovery of the space age. However, despite decades of study, many questions in radiation-belt physics remain unanswered, mostly concerning the nature of the inner and outer belts, which are populated by electrons moving at near the speed of light. As society becomes ever more dependent on satellite-based technology, it is increasingly important to understand the variability in the radiation belts, because the highest-energy \textquotedblleftkiller electrons\textquotedblright3 can result in potentially fatal damage to sensitive spacecraft electronics4. On page 338 of this issue, Ukhorskiy et al.5 present observations and a model of a previously unexplained structured feature of the inner radiation belt, which they call zebra stripes.
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