Thursday, August 11, 2011

Antimatter Belt Detected Orbiting the Earth

Alex Knapp, Contributor

Scientists working on the PAMELA Space Mission, which studies particles in the Earth’s magnetosphere, have confirmed that there is a band of antiprotons orbiting the Earth near the inner Van Allen Belt. Antiprotons have been hypothesized to be found in this region near the Earth, where they’re expected to be found due to the interaction of cosmic rays and the exosphere.

The current research, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, has confirmed the presence of this antiprotons belt over an 850 day mission using several different subdetectors on the PAMELA satellite. The number of antioprotons exceeds, by several orders of magnitude, the amount of antiprotons that would be expected outside of the radiation belts.

I’m looking forward to further research on this. However, I’m already seeing speculation that these antiprotons can be harnessed for fuel or for bombs or for both. Let’s head that speculation off at the pass, shall we? We are very far away from even reliably containing antimatter for long periods of time — the current record is 15 minutes – much less manipulating antimatter for practical purposes. Maybe someday, but fusion and improved solar energy seem to be more practical than antimatter as directions to move to for cheaper energy.

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