3 years ago

The detection of ultra-relativistic electrons in low Earth orbit.

G. Lopez Rosson, E. De Donder, J. De Keyser, V. Pierrard, M. Dominique, A. C. Katsiyannis, I. E. Dammasch, M. Kruglanski, D. Berghmans

Aims. To better understand the radiation environment in low Earth orbit (LEO), the analysis of in-situ observations of a variety of particles, at different atmospheric heights, and in a wide range of energies, is needed. Methods. We present an analysis of energetic particles, indirectly detected by the Large Yield RAdiometer (LYRA) instrument on board ESA's Project for On-board Autonomy 2 (PROBA2) satellite as background signal. Combining Energetic Particle Telescope (EPT) observations with LYRA data for an overlapping period of time, we identified these particles as electrons with an energy range of 2 to 8 MeV. Results. The observed events are strongly correlated to geo-magnetic activity and appear even during modest disturbances. They are also well confined geographically within the L=4-6 McIlwain zone, which makes it possible to identify their source. Conclusions. Although highly energetic particles are commonly perturbing data acquisition of space instruments, we show in this work that ultra-relativistic electrons with energies in the range of 2-8 MeV are detected only at high latitudes, while not present in the South Atlantic Anomaly region.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1710.04653

DOI: arXiv:1710.04653v2

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