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Gallery C

Bermuda Triangle Of Space

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Space Anomaly Buggering Astronauts

By James Donahue

Astronauts, the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and satellite systems circling the Earth have been troubled by something hovering over the South Atlantic, just off the coast of Brazil. Officially it has been referred to as the South Atlantic Anomaly, but some have dubbed it the “Bermuda Triangle of Space.”

This invisible thing, shaped like a massive pool stretching wider than the distance between South America and Africa, and hovering between 124 and 300 miles above the Earth, interferes with the electronic systems that pass through it, sometimes causing them to malfunction.
This is because radiation levels are unusually high in this area. The Space Station has been given extra shielding, the Hubble Space Telescope is programmed to switch off its delicate instruments, and other satellites are especially programmed to deal with the anomaly when they pass through it.

Astronauts say they are so affected by the radiation that when passing through they envision flashing “shooting stars” and their laptop computers crash, even behind the shields installed on the space station.

So what is the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA)?
NASA explains that it appears to be part of a radiation belt, a ring of trapped solar radiation that dips close to the Earth at a weak point in the planet’s magnetic field.

It would seem logical that the Earth’s magnetic field would reach its weakest point at the North and South Poles, but the magnetic axis is actually tilted by about 11 degrees because of the planet’s rotational axis. Thus the SAA is found about 300 miles north of where we might think it would be. Thus the anomaly is occurring over the South Atlantic.

The shape of the SAA appears to change over time, and the entire field seems to be drifting slowly west. The radiation is stronger at the lower layers of the field, and it weakens at the higher levels.

Another peculiarity found to exist within the SAA has been antimatter. This was discovered in 2006 when NASA sent an operational cosmic ray research module attached to an orbiting satellite through the anomaly.