A thin band of antimatter particles called antiprotons enveloping the Earth has been spotted for the first time.
The antiprotons lie sandwiched between the inner and outer Van Allen belts (in red) around the Earth
The find, described in Astrophysical Journal Letters, confirms theoretical work that predicted the Earth's magnetic field could trap antimatter.
The team says a small number of antiprotons lie between the Van Allen belts of trapped "normal" matter.
The researchers say there may be enough to implement a scheme using antimatter to fuel future spacecraft.
The antiprotons were spotted by the Pamela satellite (an acronym for Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics) - launched in 2006 to study the nature of high-energy particles from the Sun and from beyond our Solar System - so-called cosmic rays.
These cosmic ray particles can slam into molecules that make up the Earth's atmosphere, creating showers of particles.
Many of the cosmic ray particles or these "daughter" particles they create are caught in the Van Allen belts, doughnut-shaped regions where the Earth's magnetic field traps them.
Among Pamela's goals was to specifically look for small numbers of antimatter particles among the far more abundant normal matter particles such as protons and the nuclei of helium atoms.
The new analysis, described in an online preprint, shows that when Pamela passes through a region called the South Atlantic Anomaly, it sees thousands of times more antiprotons than are expected to come from normal particle decays, or from elsewhere in the cosmos.
False colour bubble chamber image of antiproton/proton annihilation Antiprotons "annihilate" if they come into contact with normal protons
The team says that this is evidence that bands of antiprotons, analogous to the Van Allen belts, hold the antiprotons in place - at least until they encounter the normal matter of the atmosphere, when they "annihilate" in a flash of light.
Antiprotons "annihilate" if they come into contact with normal protons
Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14405122
What are you worrying for? You are not getting out of this life alive, dead don't hurt, getting there might, and in some cases, damn well should!
Plus during and after the next Ice Age, all of this infrastructure around us won't matter squat!