Pioneer of magnetospheric research in space whose discovery of the radiation belts encircling the earth helped to further the science of astronomy. He was one of Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1960.
As a naval officer in WW II he worked on radio-proximity artillery shells, and also supervised using captured V-2 rockets for probing the atmosphere.
He proposed the launching of a satellite that returned back invaluable data about the composition of the upper atmosphere, and the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts.
He was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Both he and a fellow astronomer, Edwin Hubble, were once featured on the cover of Time magazine.