Antimatter has been the subject of a lot of research and debate over the years, new information suggest that satellite data recently confirmed that a thin band of antimatter particles called antiprotons, are being held in orbit by the Earth's magnetic field.

The new findings, described in Astrophysical Journal Letters, confirm previous academic work which anticipated the Earth's magnetic field could trap antimatter.

The team says it has been able to observe a small number of antiprotons lying between the Van Allen belts of trapped "normal" matter.

The new discovery has raised new hopes for scientists and 'spaceship' enthusiasts as researchers have said there might be enough antimatter to set up a plan in which it will be used to fuel future spacecraft, an idea explored in a report for Nasa's Institute for Advanced Concepts, the BBC reported.

The antiprotons were spotted by the Pamela satellite (an acronym for Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics), which was launched in 2006.

Pamela was used to study an area known as the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), where the inner Van Allen belt comes closest to the Earth's surface, a region is usually not easily accessible to satellites and spacecraft due to a high flux of potentially damaging energetic particles,.

Pamela recruited data during 850 days and spotted 28 trapped antiprotons, in the kinetic energy range 60-750 MeV -mega-electron volts- which helped the researchers determined that the flux of antiprotons in this region is three orders of magnitude higher than in interstellar space.

This is the first time antiprotons have been discovered trapped by the Earth's magnetic field, which will hopefully improve further our understanding of antimatter in the Universe