Cold War Nuclear Explosions Freakishly Impacted Space Weather

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"The tests were a human-generated and extreme example of some of the space weather effects frequently caused by the sun", study's co-author Phil Erickson, an assistant director at MIT's Haystack Observatory, told NASA.

NASA scientists say it's possible that the radiation barrier could be used to remove excess radiation from the area surrounding Earth, and tests are planned to determine whether this is possible. But the energy from nuclear explosions created hot, electrically charged regions within the atmosphere that induced geomagnetic disturbances, and even produced radiation belts of its own.

Later that same year, when the Argus tests were conducted, effects were seen around the world.

'If we understand what happened in the somewhat controlled and extreme event that was caused by one of these man-made events, we can more easily understand the natural variation in the near-space environment'. Led by a scientist from the University of MI, the researchers say that the plasma created in the explosions interacted with the planet's magnetic field and created an artificial version of the Van Allen belts that encircle the Earth. To those unknown, Earth is encircled by two such radiation belts alongside an impermanent third belt and the inner belt is spread out from almost 640 to 9,600 km (400 to 6,000 miles) on the top of Earth's surface, while its outer belt is stretched to an altitude of almost 13,500 to 58,000 km (8,400 to 36,000 miles).

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These belts are formed when particles emitted by the sun get caught up in our magnetic pull and form eddies around the Earth. The Teak test, which took place on August 1, 1958, was notable for the artificial aurora that resulted. The energetic particles released by the test likely followed Earth's magnetic field lines to the Polynesian island nation, inducing the aurora.

Some even failed as a result, NASA explains. Because of this thrust, the lower limits of the emission flows are actually sitting far away from Earth than they were in the 1960s.

According to NASA, the test caused geomagnetic storms detected from Sweden all the way to Arizona, with two high-speed waves of particles traveling at 1,860 miles per second and nearly 500 miles per second, respectively.

Atmospheric nuclear tests are no longer allowed, and those artificial radiation belts are long gone. A different explosion let them see how fast the particles traveled, in once case as fast as 1,860 miles per second.

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