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U.S. Space Pioneer James Van Allen Dies at 91
Physicist James A. Van Allen, a leader in space exploration who discovered the radiation belts surrounding the Earth that now bear his name, died Wednesday. He was 91.
The University of Iowa, where he taught for years, announced the death in a statement on its Web site.
In a career that stretched over more than a half-century, Van Allen designed scientific instruments for dozens of research flights, first with small rockets and balloons, and eventually with space probes that traveled to distant planets and beyond.
Van Allen gained global attention in the late 1950s when instruments he designed and placed aboard the first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, discovered the bands of intense radiation that surround the earth, now known as the Van Allen Belts.