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Sputnik schmutnik - Explorer 1 discovered something: 50th anniversary of Americas first trip to space

January 30, 2008

While the launch of Sputnik by the then U.S.S.R. might have won the race to space, its scientific value was next to nothing for the space community. In comparison, Americas Explorer 1 launch 50 years ago tomorrow led to the discovery of harmful radiation belts in the solar system. A University of Minnesota professor who can explain the groundbreaking launch is:
Bill Garrard, aerospace engineering and mechanics professor at the University of Minnesota

Garrard says that, while Sputnik was more of a publicity launch with a few radio transmitters, Explorer 1, equipped with more instrumentation, led to the discovery of Van Allen Belts, intense bands of radiation. The belts, if unavoided, were found to damage satellites and other spacecraft. The find was considered one of the most outstanding of the International Geophysical Year. 

To interview this expert, contact the University News Service,  (612) 624-5551.

Tags: College of Science and Engineering

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