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New Insights From Long-Term Measurements of Inner Belt Protons (10s of MeV) by SAMPEX, POES, Van Allen Probes, and Simulation Results

The Solar, Anomalous, and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) mission provided long-term measurements of 10s of megaelectron volt (MeV) inner belt (L < 2) protons (1992–2009) as did the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite-18 (POES-18, 2005 to present). These long-term measurements at low-Earth orbit (LEO) showed clear solar cycle variations which anticorrelate with sunspot number. However, the magnitude of the variation is much greater than the solar cycle variation of galactic cosmic rays (>GeV) that are regarded as a source of these trapped protons. Furthermore, the proton fluxes and their variations sensitively depend on the altitude above the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) region. With respect to protons (>36 MeV) mirroring near the magnetic equator, both POES measurements and simulations show no obvious solar cycle variations at L > 1.2. This is also confirmed by recent measurements from the Van Allen Probes (2012–2019), but there are clear solar cycle variations and a strong spatial gradient of the proton flux below L = 1.2. A direct comparison between measurements and simulations leads to the conclusion that energy loss of trapped protons due to collisions with free and bound electrons in the ionosphere and atmosphere is the dominant mechanism for the strong spatial gradient and solar cycle variation of the inner belt protons. This fact is also key of importance for spacecraft and instrument design and operation in near-Earth space.

Li, Xinlin; Xiang, Zheng; Zhang, Kun; Khoo, Lengying; Zhao, Hong; Baker, Daniel; Temerin, Michael;

Published by: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics      Published on: 08/2020

YEAR: 2020     DOI:

Inner radiation belt; Inner Belt Proton; Solar cycle variation; Cosmic rays; neutron monitor; Low Earth Orbit satellite; Van Allen Probes


Cosmic ray physics in space: from fundamental physics to applications

One hundred years after their discovery by Victor Hess, cosmic rays are nowadays subject of intense research from space-based detectors, able to perform for the first time high precision measurement of their composition and spectra as well as of isotropy and time variability. On May 2011, the alpha magnetic spectrometer (AMS-02) has been installed on the International Space Station, to measure with high accuracy the cosmic ray properties searching for rare events which could be an indication of the nature of dark matter or presence of nuclear antimatter. AMS-02 is the result of nearly two decades of effort of an international collaboration, involving in particular Chinese and Italian scientists, to design and build a state of the art detector capable to perform high precision cosmic rays measurement. In this paper, I will briefly report on the first results of AMS-02 as well as about two cosmic rays researches related researches which are spinoffs of the AMS technology development: utilization of superconductivity in space to develop magnetic shields capable to protect the astronauts from the intense dose of radiation collected during an interplanetary mission and study of the lithospheric\textendashmagnetospheric interactions linking seismology to cosmic rays in the context of the Sino-Italian collaboration on the China seismo-electromagnetic satellite.

Battiston, Roberto;

Published by: Rendiconti Lincei      Published on: 03/2014

YEAR: 2014     DOI: 10.1007/s12210-014-0293-1

Anti matter; Cosmic rays; Dark matter; Seismology; Space research; Superconductivity; Van Allen Belts