The Van Allen radiation belts--named after James Van Allen, who discovered them in 1958--have caused many a headache for space faring projects in the last 55 years. They were a cause for concern during the initial Apollo missions, and today they pose hazards for GPS and communications satellites. The belts swell with the influx of charged particles from solar storms, and when they do so they can disable satellites or threaten astronauts working in space.
NASA's Van Allen Probes mission, launched August 30, discovered a third belt. It appears that the newly discovered third belt is transient in nature, only appearing when charged particles from the Sun enter the system. When the third belt appears, an empty 'slot' of space appears with it, separating it from the other bands.
Further research is needed to understand just how the band arises, and how it might impact space based systems. It goes to show that space is full of surprises, some of them in our own back yard.