Geophysical Research Letters

GCR access to the Moon as measured by the CRaTER instrument on LRO

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Abstract

[1] Recent modeling efforts have yielded varying and conflicting results regarding the possibility that Earth's magnetosphere is able to shield energetic particles of >10 MeV at lunar distances. This population of particles consists of galactic cosmic rays as well as energetic particles that are accelerated by solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is in orbit about the Moon and is thus able to directly test these modeling results. Over the course of a month, CRaTER samples the upstream solar wind as well as various regions of Earth's magnetotail. CRaTER data from multiple lunations demonstrate that Earth's magnetosphere at lunar distances produces no measurable influence on energetic particle flux, even at the lowest energies (>14 MeV protons) where any effect should be maximized. For particles with energies of 14–30 MeV, we calculate an upper limit (determined by counting statistics) on the amount of shielding caused by the magnetosphere of 1.7%. The high energy channel (>500 MeV) provides an upper limit of 3.2%.

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