Upper limit on the inner radiation belt MeV electron Intensity

No instruments in the inner radiation belt are immune from the unforgiving penetration of the highly energetic protons (10s of MeV to GeV). The inner belt proton flux level, however, is relatively stable, thus for any given instrument, the proton contamination often leads to a certain background noise. Measurements from the Relativistic Electron and Proton Telescope integrated little experiment (REPTile) on board Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE) CubeSat, in a low Earth orbit, clearly demonstrate that there exist sub-MeV electrons in the inner belt because of their flux level is orders of magnitude higher than the background, while higher energy electron (>1.6 MeV) measurements cannot be distinguished from the background. Detailed analysis of high-quality measurements from the Relativistic Electron and Proton Telescope (REPT) on board Van Allen Probes, in a geo-transfer-like orbit, provides, for the first time, quantified upper limits on MeV electron fluxes in various energy ranges in the inner belt. These upper limits are rather different from flux levels in the AE8 and AE9 models, which were developed based on older data sources. For 1.7, 2.5, and 3.3 MeV electrons, the upper limits are about one order of magnitude lower than predicted model fluxes. The implication of this difference is profound in that unless there are extreme solar wind conditions, which have not happened yet since the launch of Van Allen Probes, significant enhancements of MeV electrons do not occur in the inner belt even though such enhancements are commonly seen in the outer belt.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published