Van Allen Probes - Instruments: RBSPICE
Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment (RBSPICE)
Principal Investigator: Louis Lanzerotti, New Jersey Institute of Technology
RBSPICE focuses on a separate, but related, component of space weather: the ring current. The ring current is an electric current circling Earth around the equator. An integral part of Earth's electromagnetic environment, it too changes in response to solar and geomagnetic activity and affects the particles moving through the radiation belts.
RBSPICE measures the composition – that is, the amount of protons, helium, and oxygen – and pressure of the ring current. These factors can impact the shape of the magnetic fields in Earth's magnetosphere. Scientists will use this information to understand how and why the ring current changes during geomagnetic storms and how this, in turn, affects the particles in the belts.