The downpour in space reveals a new mechanism that promotes “electronic rain”

Charged particles will normally accumulate in the magnetosphere around the earth and participate in the process of producing the earth’s auroras. A new study by the UCLA team points out that a type of electromagnetic wave in the radiation belt around the earth can trigger a larger “electron rain”, which may become an invisible way to damage satellites or human safety in future space travel if not careful.

The magnetosphere around Earth is full of electrons or other charged particles, known as the Van Allen radiation belt, in which electrons travel in a Slinky-like spring, bouncing back and forth between the north and south poles, when the solar wind or the sun Storms can blow these particles into Earth’s atmosphere and cause auroras.

Under certain conditions, whistler waves are generated in the radiation belt to excite plasma electrons and accelerate them. Recently, a UCLA team combined data from the ELFIN satellite and NASA THEMIS probe to find that another form is larger. The new mechanism for the range “electron rain” comes from whistling waves, which accelerate electrons and fall out of the Van Allen radiation belt. Compared to normal electron rain, the electron rain accelerated by whistling waves moves. Faster and with greater reach.

The researcher Vassilis Angelopolous explained that the Van Allen radiation belts can be imagined as “space reservoirs” filled with electrons. When the reservoir is full, the electrons will descend in a spiral manner to prevent overflow; but when the reservoir rushes a big wave, the shaking electrons will overflow. “Electron rain” forms at the edges.

The team further showed that during the Earth’s magnetic storm, this type of radiation will significantly intensify the impact on the earth, causing hidden harm to satellites, probes, and astronauts. However, the current space weather prediction model has not yet included the electron rain caused by whistling waves. Missing out reduces prediction accuracy.

The new paper was published in the journal Nature Communications.

U.S. Study: Omicron Vaccine May Not Be Needed, Monkeys React After Being Vaccinated

U.S. government researchers said on April 4 that according to a study of monkeys, there may be no need to develop a vaccine against the Omicron variant of the virus because the difference in protective power between the existing Modena vaccine booster and the vaccine against Omicron is small.

Reuters reports that researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) administered two doses of the Modena vaccine to monkeys, followed by the Modena booster and the Omicron vaccine, and showed that both boosters produced “comparable and significantly increased neutralizing antibodies” against all high-concern variants, including Omicron.

Daniel Douek, a co-author of the study and a researcher at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, said this is very good news and means there is no need to completely redesign the vaccine against Omicron.

Both the original vaccine and the vaccine against Omicron are “cross-reactive,” Douek said, which means they can recognize many different variants.

John Moore, professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, who was not involved in the study, said the results were similar to those from the study testing a Modena booster against the Beta variant, emphasizing that monkey data are usually good predictors, but human data are still needed.

A key advantage of using monkeys in the study is that researchers can give the animals a booster and then infect them with the virus and measure the immune response, which is not possible in human trials, Moore said.