Determination of the equatorial electron differential flux from observations at low Earth orbit
Variations in the high-energy relativistic electron flux of the radiation belts depend on transport, acceleration, and loss processes, and importantly on the lower-energy seed population. However, data on the seed population is limited to a few satellite missions. Here we present a new method that utilizes data from the Medium Energy Proton/Electron Detector on board the low-altitude Polar Operational Environmental Satellites to retrieve the seed population at a pitch angle of 90 degrees. The integral flux values measured by Medium Energy Proton/Electron Detector relate to a low equatorial pitch angle and were converted to omnidirectional flux using parameters obtained from fitting one or two sin(N) alpha functions to pitch angle distributions given by three and a half years of Van Allen Probes data. Two methods to convert from integral to differential flux are explored. One utilizes integral and differential flux energy distributions from the AE9 model, the second employs an iterative fitting approach based on a Reverse Monte Carlo (RMC) method. The omnidirectional differential flux was converted to an equatorial pitch angle of 90 degrees, again using statistical pitch angle distributions from Van Allen Probe data. We validate the resulting 90 degrees flux for 100- to 600-keV electrons against measurements from the Van Allen Probes and show an average agreement within a factor of 4 for L* > 3.7. The resulting data set offers a high time resolution, across multiple magnetic local time planes, and may be used to formulate event-specific low-energy boundary conditions for radiation belt models.
Authors: Allison, Hayley J. ORCID record for Hayley J. Allison, Horne, Richard B. ORCID record for Richard B. Horne, Glauert, Sarah A. ORCID record for Sarah A. Glauert, Del Zanna, Giulio