Earth  ID: 4557

Leaky Radiation Belts

Since their discovery at the dawn of the Space Age, Earth's radiation belts continue to reveal new complex structures and behaviors.

During a particularly intense event in late June 2015, the inner edge of the region of trapped electrons moved closer to Earth. The electrons of interest had energies in excess of a million electron volts (Wikipedia). As the region retreated outward, it left behind a population of high-energy electrons forming another radiation belt inside the L=2 shell (The 'L-shell' value identifies a field line in a magnetic dipole. The numerical value corresponds to the furthest distance from Earth in Earth radii, in this case two Earth radii). This flux of high-energy electrons persisted considerably longer than expected, the relativistic electrons slowly leaking away. It took over a year for the relativistic electron flux in the belt to decline below the level of detectability for the instruments on the Van Allen Probes.

The 3-dimensional radiation belt model in the visualizations above was constructed by propagating electron flux measurements, corresponding to a given time and distance from Earth measured by the Van Allen Probes, along a 3-dimensional structure of magnetic dipole field lines.

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Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (Global Science and Technology, Inc.): Lead Visualizer
Seth Claudepierre (The Aerospace Corporation): Lead Scientist
Mara Johnson-Groh (Wyle Information Systems): Lead Writer
Genna Duberstein (USRA): Lead Producer
Ian Jones (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Technical Support
Laurence Schuler (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Technical Support
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Van Allen Probes

Data Used:
Van Allen Probes/Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite also referred to as: ECT
Observed Data - University of New Hampshire - 2015-03-01 to 2016-06-30
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles >> Electron Flux
SVS >> Radiation Belts
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Solar Energetic Particle Flux >> Electron Flux

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version