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Scientists Discover an Invisible Shield Protecting Earth

Just like in Star Trek—only this giant force field protecting Earthlings from “killer electrons”

Scientists led by a team at the University of Colorado in Boulder have discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth, which they say protects the planet from “killer electrons”—ominous-sounding particles that whip around space close to the speed of light, fry satellite equipment and even harm astronauts outside space stations.

The shield was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, a couple of doughnut-shaped rings held in place above Earth by its magnetic field. First discovered in 1958 by Professor James Van Allen at the University of Iowa, the belts are filled with electrons and protons that respond to incoming “energy disturbances” from the sun. Last year, Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, discovered a third ring nestled between the two belts.

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Intermission: Moon-Walking Bloopers

Without the help of gravity, astronauts stumble, fall, and struggle to get back up on the surface of the moon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEdYf4SGhuI

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Feast Your Eyes: A Day in the Life of a NASA Space Food Scientist

Dealing with crumbs in zero gravity and developing hydroponic crops for Mars: NASA's food scientists discuss the challenges of developing space food.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wAC-ST77Ow

This short video shows Michele Perchonok, Advanced Food Technology Manager at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and members of the food science team in Houston, Texas, as they develop astronaut food in the Space Food Systems Laboratory.

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