The US military will conduct experiments to cleanse space from nuclear pollution

Trinity and Beyond – The Atomic Bomb Movie / Peter Kuran

US military prepares to test three ways
removal of high-energy particles from the radiation belts of the Earth. Pollution
this kind appear as a result of space nuclear explosions and during
for a long time can interfere with the operation of satellites until they fail,
informs Science.

After the Second World War, the USA and the USSR spent many
nuclear weapon tests. Prior to the signing in 1963 of the Moscow Treaty prohibiting
tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water, explosions
conducted in all environments.

One of the first US space trials was Starfish
Prime held on July 9, 1962, when the military detonated a 1.4 bomb
megatons at an altitude of 400 kilometers. It was initially believed that relatively
the few satellites existing at that time will not feel
impact, as they were far from the center of detonation. However during
In the next few months, several devices failed, including
Telstar’s first telecommunications satellite.

Subsequently, it turned out that the reason was magnetic capture
field of the Earth many high-energy electrons that appear due to
the explosion. These particles for a long time remain in the orbit of the planet, merging into existing
radiation belts or forming new ones. Over time, particles lose energy and
collide with the atmosphere – such “cosmic precipitation” occurs constantly, however
at a height of several hundred kilometers, the concentration of the substance is low, which is why
such interactions are incapable of drastically orbiting in a short time
particles appearing.

Today, such tests are prohibited, in addition to most
Nuclear-weapon countries have many satellites in orbit, many
of which will be damaged by a sufficiently powerful explosion. However, a number of countries such
like North Korea and Iran, are close or have already developed nuclear weapons, while
without a valuable constellation of satellites. In this regard, the US military admit
possible attack by these states.

This danger pushed the US military to begin development
ways to cleanse outer space from the effects of a nuclear explosion, if
it cannot be prevented. This process, called recovery
radiation belts (radiation belt remediation), is controlled
enhancing the natural course of particle concentration reduction by
radio waves.

Key data on the interaction of space radio emission and
Earth with high-energy electrons was obtained as part of the work of Van Allen probes (the last of which was turned off recently), which repeatedly crossed the boundaries of radiation belts. Now
scientists, together with the military, intend to teach how to manage these processes. For
sources of extra-long radio waves such as HAARPobservatory radio telescope
Arecibo or towers used to communicate with submarines.

However, the most effective should be located
sources of radiation in space. To this end, the US military launched in the summer
2019 into orbit the DSX dipole antenna, which they themselves call the largest
unmanned structure in space. The objective of this installation is approximately
five thousand square meters consists in irradiation of radiation belts with extra-long
radio waves and measuring the amount of dropping particles.

In 2021, it is planned to launch two more experiments similar
directivity – Beam Plasma Interactions Experiment and Space Measurements of a
Rocket-Released Turbulence. The first one is a miniature
particle accelerator emitting accelerated electrons, which in turn
become the source of the necessary radio waves. The second is based on a different principle – launch
1.5 kilograms of barium atoms into the upper atmosphere. These particles will be ionized.
sunlight and create a ring of mobile plasma high above the surface
Earth, which will also be a source of radio waves.

In addition to military purposes, these experiments may have
peaceful purpose: this way you can try to temporarily shift
natural radiation belts, thereby reducing the radiation load on flying away
on a long journey of astronauts.

Previously scientists used seismic waves from underground nuclear tests to clarify the super-rotation of the Earth’s core. We also made detailed material about places where in Russia nuclear explosions were used for peaceful purposes – “The bomb on the farm”.

Timur Keshelava

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