International Geophysical Year

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The International Geophysical Year (IGY) was an international scientific project that lasted from July 1, 1957, to December 31, 1958. It marked the end of a long period during the Cold War when scientific interchange between East and West was seriously interrupted. All major countries took part with the exception of mainland China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) (in view of their political stalemate).

The IGY encompassed eleven Earth sciences: aurora and airglow, cosmic rays, geomagnetism, gravity, ionospheric physics, longitude and latitude determinations (precision mapping), meteorology, oceanography, seismology and solar activity.

Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union (USSR) launched artificial satellites for this event; the Soviet Union's Sputnik 1 in October was the first successful artificial satellite. Other significant achievements of the IGY included the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts and the discovery of mid-ocean submarine ridges, an important confirmation of plate tectonics.[1] Also detected was the rare occurrence of hard solar corpuscular radiation that could be highly dangerous for manned space flight.



International Polar Years were held in 1882–1883, 1932–1933, and 2007-2009.

In March 1950, at a gathering of eight or ten top scientists (including Lloyd Berkner, S. Fred Singer, and Harry Vestine) in James Van Allen's living room, someone suggested that with the development of new tools such as rockets, radar and computers, the time was ripe for a worldwide geophysical year.

From the March 1950 meeting, Lloyd Berkner and other participants proposed to the International Council of Scientific Unions that an International Geophysical Year (IGY) be planned for 1957—58, during an approaching period of maximum solar activity.[2]

April 11, 1957, the U.S. Navy tested a satellite[clarification needed] at an altitude of 126 mi.[3]

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