exploration of space a real possibility; working with the new technologies, Soviet and American participants sent artificial satellites into earth orbit. In successfully launching science into space, the IGY may have scored its greatest breakthrough. Overall, the IGY was highly successful in achieving its goals, which were summed up in an NAS IGY Program Report:
...to observe geophysical phenomena and to secure data from all parts of the world; to conduct this effort on a coordinated basis by fields, and in space and time, so that results could be collated in a meaningful manner.
The IGY’s achievements included the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts encircling the Earth; the charting of ocean depth and currents; the detailed study of the Earth’s magnetic field that led to the revolutionary plate tectonic theory; measurements of upper atmospheric winds; the unprecedented setting aside of an entire continent (Antarctica) for scientific research, later embodied in the Antarctica Treaty—and most dramatically, the launching by rocket of the first artificial Earth-orbiting satellites, so inaugurating the space age