The fame of the Bermuda Triangle is well known. It is the place on our planet that seems to attract the most secrets. But … and outside of our planet? Is there anything like that? Well the answer is yes. Space has its Bermuda Triangle.
Satellites sent into space behave as expected. It is difficult for the unexpected to happen. But some satellites began to give errors in their operation when traversing certain areas. In the 1980s they decided to analyze it in depth. Something interesting was found. It always occurred in parts of South America and the Atlantic Ocean. The culprit for all of this? Sun.
The sun has ejections of solar wind. Its high-energy charged particles arrive. The planet’s magnetic field is responsible for capturing them. And it creates energy belts known as the Van Allen belts.
The most intense Van Allen Belt is 500 kilometers from the earth’s surface up to 5,000 kilometers away. The exterior extends up to 58,000 kilometers. Both are in the area where the satellites operate.
These affect the correct functioning of computers. Communication errors or changes appear in the system’s internal memory. So, low-orbit satellites aim for a distance between 500 and 1000 km. And they also avoid colliding with all that space junk.
But it is not easy to bypass the belt area. The Van Allen belt is a bit oval. And one area is closer to the earth than the other. The next point is South America and the Atlantic. It’s called the South Atlantic Anomaly. It affects from latitude 15 ° to latitude 45 ° in the southern hemisphere. In this area, the effects can be felt from a height of 600 kilometers.
One of the ways to limit radiation exposure is to shield satellites well. The problem is that this increases your weight. The International Space Station, which orbits at an inclination of 51.6 °, has this additional shield. They already knew that space had its Bermuda Triangle and they protected themselves.
Another solution is to have multiple computers work exactly the same. If one fails due to radiation, the others replace it. It’s an archaic but inevitable solution. And the South Atlantic Anomaly is just the first problem space exploration faces.