As technology advances, as society in general and scientists in particular become increasingly reliant on the artificial satellites that circle our planet, and as space agencies worldwide are considering new ways to send humans to the Moon and Mars, better understanding of adverse space weather in the Earth's upper atmosphere is crucial.

Critical to the success of satellite and manned spaceflight missions will be their ability to pass safely through Earth's Van Allen radiation belts. Energetic charged particles trapped in the radiation belts are a major source of damaging space weather effects not only on spacecraft and astronauts but also on life and society here on Earth, as such enhancements can create false signals in electronics and outages in vital satellite systems. Thus, understanding the physical processes that enhance the electron and ion content of our radiation belts is a timely and pressing issue.