Two Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory-built spacecraft units are scheduled for decommissioning after investigating space for seven years.
The Van Allen Probes were sent to a lower orbit in February and are expected to decay prior to their reentry to the Earth's atmosphere, APL said Thursday.
Built and managed by APL for NASA, the probes observed the Van Allen belts to study how the rings acquire and lose electromagnetic particles. They also studied invisible activities around the belts and made other discoveries, such as how electrically charged molecules, also known as ions, can change the Earth's magnetic field.
“The Probes used uniquely capable instruments to unveil radiation belt features that were all but invisible to previous sensors, and discover many new physical mechanisms of radiation belt acceleration and loss,“ said Sasha Ukhorskiy, a project scientist for the Van Allen Probes at APL.