We've actually done something to help planet Earth!
From global warming to ozone depletion, we’re constantly bombarded with doomsday predictions about how our tendency to trash the planet will ultimately destroy it (and us). But as Newsweek reports, NASA has discovered that we did something right for once: we accidentally created an artificial barrier around the earth.
The barrier, which comes and goes, is the result of very low frequency radio communications interacting with particles in space, which results in a sort of shield protecting Earth from high energy radiation in space.
This might not seem like a big deal, but it could potentially prove extremely beneficial for us. Events like coronal mass ejections, where huge explosions on the sun eject the plasma and magnetic field from the outer part of the sun’s atmosphere, can create geomagnetic storms. While these storms pose no physical danger to us on Earth, they have the potential to knock out our communications satellites and power grids, which would be a big problem.
Our newly-discovered very low frequency (VLF) bubble could protect us from the effects of geomagnetic storms. But scientists have discovered that it’s already protecting us from radiation, and likely has been for decades.
The VLF bubble extends to the inner edge of the Van Allen radiation belts, which are zones of electric charged particles that have been blown into Earth’s magnetic field by solar wind. Data from the 60s show that the radiation belts used to be far closer to Earth, but the increasing use of very low frequency radio communications created the VLF bubble, which in turn pushed the boundaries of the Van Allen belts further away from us.
NASA has even theorized that the VLF bubble could be used to remove excess radiation from the space surrounding Earth, and is planning to test this theory in the near future.
For once, we humans accidentally did something to helped protect our planet! Pretty cool, huh?