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Decay rate of the second radiation belt

, : Decay rate of the second radiation belt. Advances in Space Research 17(2): 151-158

Variations in the Earth's trapped (Van Allen) belts produced by solar flare particle events are not well understood. Few observations of increases in particle populations have been reported. This is particularly true for effects in low Earth orbit, where manned spaceflights are conducted. This paper reports the existence of a second proton belt and it's subsequent decay as measured by a tissue-equivalent proportional counter and a particle spectrometer on five Space Shuttle flights covering an eighteen-month period. The creation of this second belt is attributed to the injection of particles from a solar particle event which occurred at 2246 UT, March 22, 1991. Comparisons with observations onboard the Russian Mir space station and other unmanned satellites are made. Shuttle measurements and data from other spacecraft are used to determine that the e-folding time of the peak of the second proton belt. It was ten months. Proton populations in the second belt returned to values of quiescent times within eighteen months. The increase in absorbed dose attributed to protons in the second belt was approximately 20%. Passive dosimeter measurements were in good agreement with this value.


PMID: 11540362

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