Human space travelers will not find a hospitable welcome in a couple of doughnut-shaped radiation belts that stretch thousands of miles into space. Known as the Van Allen belts, the region is filled with killer electrons, plasma waves and electrical currents. Scientists believe similar radiation belts also exist on other planets in the solar system and now they'll be able to back up their assumptions with hard data.
Shortly before dawn today, two NASA probes lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., heading for the heart of the Van Allen belts. It's the dual-spacecraft mission sent to investigate this hazardous regions of near-Earth space.