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Hank updates us on two new missions that will help us learn more about some of the fascinating things in our space neighborhood.

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Hank Green: Hello, and welcome back to the SciShow news room where my walls have been painted code orange to alert you of some exciting news about the future of exploration of our solar system. Today, I bring you two brand new missions, one of which will take us to the most dangerous part of our stellar neighborhood, and another that will take us back to Mars to reveal a side of the Red Planet that's never been seen before.

First, this Friday, NASA plans to launch two spacecraft that will be the first to simultaneously study the giant donuts of radiation that surround the Earth known as the Van Allen belts. The new vehicles, called the radiation belt storm probes or RBSPs will be sent to the harshest environment of near-earth space, bathed in the high-energy radiation that's associated with space weather, the phenomena known to mess with power grids on Earth pose danger to astronauts in orbit and like, God forbid, even take out satellite TV. The Van Allen belts were actually discovered back in 1958, but we still don't know that much about them, so the probes will spend two years collecting clues about what makes them tick from detecting the particles in them to studying the plasma waves and magnetic fields that they travel on. By helping us understand these radioactive rings, the RBSPs will help scientists not only better predict space weather, but also design spacecraft and missions that can better withstand it, for which I and all future space travelers, thank them.

And exciting development number two, on Monday, NASA announced its latest ambitious planetary mission, and this time, we're not just going back to Mars, we're gonna go inside it. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the new Insight probe will land on the Martian surface near the equator and literally drill for answers about Mars' interior, which we know like nothing about, we don't know if its center is solid or liquid or filled with hazelnut creme or what. It's also not clear why its surface isn't broken up into tectonic plates like Earth's is, we don't even know for sure if there is such a thing as Mars quakes. To answer these and other questions, Insight will dig deep, about 9m below the surface, where it'll sink seismometers and temperature probes. Assuming all goes well, Insight will be the 9th mission to land safely on Mars. And you won't be surprised to hear I'm pretty jazzed for both of these missions, the sooner we figure out how to make space travel safer and find nice building sites on Mars, the closer I am to my summer home at the foot of Olympus Mons.

 Now, of course, I personally have some ideas about where NASA might want to go next, but I also wanna know what you think, tell me down in the comments below. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Breaking, if you want to stay up to date with all the latest news in science, you can go to and subscribe.

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