1.5 Airborne Platforms Providing Space Weather Measurements Help Decipher the Radiation Environment

Monday, 8 January 2018: 9:45 AM
Salon J (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
W. Kent Tobiska, Space Environment Technologies, Pacific Palisades, CA

The Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) project captures absorbed dose in Si with a fleet of 6 instruments on research aircraft. These dose rates are then converted to an effective dose rate. Over 337 flights since 2013 have captured global radiation at nearly all altitudes and latitudes. The radiation is predominantly caused by atmospheric neutrons and protons from galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). We have not yet obtained dose from solar energetic particle (SEP) events, which are rather rare. On 13 flights we have also measured dose rates that are up to twice the GCR background for approximately a half an hour per event while flying at higher magnetic latitudes near 60 degrees. The timing of the radiation appears to be coincident with periods of mild geomagnetic disturbances while flying above 10 km at L-shells of 3 to 6. The radiation source is best modeled as secondary gamma-ray photons caused by precipitating ultra-relativistic electrons from the outer Van Allen radiation belt originating as loss cone electrons scattered by electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves. We describe the observations and the lines of evidence for this intriguing new radiation source relevant to aviation crew and frequent flyers.
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