Magnetospheric particles and radiation conditions
Scientific payload of the “Lomonosov” satellite will include a complex of the devices ELFIN-L and DEPRON for the studies of the processes of the charged particles penetration into the upper atmosphere of the Earth and for the analysis of the radiaiton conditions at low altitudes.
Why is it important?
Radiation environment at low altitudes (less than ~ 500-600 km) is basically determined by the fluxes of quazi-trapped and precipitated particles of the Earth’s radiation belts and the solar particles penetrating mainly into the polar caps regions. The scales of their time variations is very wide – from many years according to solar activity circularity down to so short as microseconds, probably, due to the processes of wave-particle interaction within the range of stable capture inside the geomagnetic trap.
Experiments for the studies of these particles are needed to be conducted due to the timeliness of the following space-physics problem:
- What are the physical mechanisms which lead to the particles precipitation from the Earth’s radiation belts and what is the main trigger for the beginning of intensification of this phenomenon under the calm and disturbed geomagnetic and solar conditions. Besides extremely important fundamental physics which concerns the studies of these phenomena magnetospheric particles penetrating into the atmosphere cause a number of interesting phenomena among which are local and wide-scale ionospheric disturbances, ozone layer variations and atmospheric ionization.
- It is possible that small-scale variations of penetrated particles (in first turn – relativistic electrons) are associated with transient luminous events observed in the upper atmosphere.
- And at least, the altitude of the “Lomonosov” satellite’s orbit is close to that of the “basic” orbits of the manned space complexes. Therefore complex studies of the radiation environment at this altitude is important from the point of radiation safety of space flights.