“We don’t know why we haven’t seen this before,” said Kanekal, a co-author of a new report online in Science describing the find. “We don’t know if it’s a rare phenomenon. Even after 50 years, nature is still capable of surprising us.”
Being able to predict such sudden increases in near-Earth radiation could help steer future human space missions away from dangerous doses.
The twin octagon-shaped Van Allen Probes were built for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md..