What is the South Atlantic Anomaly?



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    The South Atlantic Anomaly (or SAA) is the region where Earth’s inner Van Allen radiation belt makes its closest approach to the planet’s surface. For a given altitude, the radiation intensity is greater within this region than elsewhere. The Van Allen radiation belts are symmetric with the Earth’s magnetic axis, which is tilted with respect to the Earth’s rotational axis by an angle of ~11 degrees. Because of this tilt, the inner Van Allen belt is closest to the Earth’s surface over the south Atlantic ocean.
    The South Atlantic Anomaly is of great significance to astronomical satellites and other spacecraft that orbit the Earth at several hundred kilometers altitude; these orbits take satellites through the anomaly periodically, exposing them to several minutes of strong radiation each time. The International Space Station, orbiting with an inclination of 51.6°, requires extra shielding to deal with this problem. The Hubble Space Telescope does not take observations while passing through the SAA.

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    The South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) is a region where the inner Van Allen Radiation Belt comes closest to the surface of the Earth, just north of Brazil in the South Atlantic Ocean. The Van Allen Radiation Belt is a cloud around the Earth that traps charged particles from the solar wind, making the SAA area full of high-energy protons. This is primarily of concern to satellites and other spacecraft that pass through the region, as the intense electricity and proton bombardment can disrupt electronic systems and damage computers and other spacecraft components.

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    The South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) is a portion of the Van Allen Belt of radiation that covers much of South America. The SAA helps to store up the charged particles that solar wind bombards the Earth with. Because it extends high above the Earth’s surface, the SAA’s radiation does have an impact on satellites and other spacecraft, at times producing operational errors and damage to electrical components.

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