A 30-year simulation of the outer electron radiation belt
As society becomes more reliant on satellite technology, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the radiation environment throughout the Van Allen radiation belts. Historically most satellites have operated in low Earth orbit or geostationary orbit (GEO), but there are now over 100 satellites in medium Earth orbit (MEO). Additionally, satellites using electric orbit raising to reach GEO may spend hundreds of days on orbits that pass through the heart of the radiation belts. There is little long‐term data on the high‐energy electron flux, responsible for internal charging in satellites, available for MEO. Here we simulate the electron flux between the outer edge of the inner belt and GEO for 30 years. We present a method that converts the >2‐MeV flux measured at GEO by the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites spacecraft into a differential flux spectrum to provide an outer boundary condition. The resulting simulation is validated using independent measurements made by the Galileo In‐Orbit Validation Element‐B spacecraft; correlation coefficients are in the range 0.72 to 0.88, and skill scores are between 0.6 and 0.8 for a range of L∗ and energies. The results show a clear solar cycle variation and filling of the slot region during active conditions and that the worst case spectrum overlaps that derived independently for the limiting extreme event. The simulation provides a resource that can be used by satellite designers to understand the MEO environment, by space insurers to help resolve the cause of anomalies and by satellite operators to plan for the environmental extremes.
Authors: Glauert, Sarah A. ORCID record for Sarah A. Glauert, Horne, Richard B. ORCID record for Richard B. Horne, Meredith, Nigel P. ORCID record for Nigel P. Meredith