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New conjunctive CubeSat and balloon measurements to quantify rapid energetic electron precipitation

Authors


Abstract

[1] Relativistic electron precipitation into the atmosphere can contribute significant losses to the outer radiation belt. In particular, rapid narrow precipitation features termed precipitation bands have been hypothesized to be an integral contributor to relativistic electron precipitation loss, but quantification of their net effect is still needed. Here we investigate precipitation bands as measured at low earth orbit by the Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE) CubeSat. Two precipitation bands of MeV electrons were observed on 18–19 January 2013, concurrent with precipitation seen by the 2013 Balloon Array for Radiation belt Relativistic Electron Losses (BARREL) campaign. The newly available conjugate measurements allow for a detailed estimate of the temporal and spatial features of precipitation bands for the first time. We estimate the net electron loss due to the precipitation bands and find that ~20 such events could empty the entire outer belt. This study suggests that precipitation bands play a critical role in radiation belt losses.

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