Planetary Radiation Belt Physics

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Antarctic Survey
Department Name: Science Programmes

Abstract

Within the magnetic fields of planets that extend into space are regions of trapped energetic particles that are hazardous to spacecraft and humans. The way these radiation belts vary in intensity is a major focus of scientific endeavour in space science. Understanding the principles of how these dangerous regions in space behave is very important in predicting the level of hazard they pose to spacecraft.

At Earth there have been two major advances in radiation belt science: first, that intense electromagnetic waves can increase the energy of electrons to extremely high, relativistic energies via a process called cyclotron resonant wave-particle interactions, and second, that electron transport and acceleration are substantially increased by ultra low frequency (ULF) waves. These two results have transformed generally accepted ideas on the Earth's radiation belts that have lasted 40 years or more, and have spurred new satellite missions such as NASA's Van Allen Probes mission to test these ideas.

Intense electromagnetic waves are also observed inside the magnetic fields of Jupiter and Saturn which suggests that the same resonant acceleration, transport and loss processes could be important for all planetary radiation belts. The goal of this proposal is to test the hypothesis that cyclotron resonant wave-particle interactions are major electron acceleration and loss processes at Jupiter and Saturn, and play a major role in the formation of radiation belts at these planets.

The results will help determine whether resonant wave acceleration and loss of electrons is a universal process that is more widely applicable to the Sun and stars, as wells the newly discovered planets outside our Solar System. It will help set new research goals for future spacecraft missions to the planets, provide research training for young scientists, develop computer models that will be of use to the space industry in planning future missions to the outer planets, and leave a legacy of understanding that will last long after the completion of the project.

Planned Impact

We have identified the following non-academic users who would benefit from the proposed research:

Space Agencies
Space Agencies produce models of the radiation environment for the Earth and planets for mission planning. Two new missions to Jupiter have been approved; the ESA JUICE mission scheduled for launch in 2022 and the NASA Europa Clipper mission in the early 2020s. However, data on the radiation environment are still very limited as previous missions did not sample the regions proposed for the next generation of spacecraft. Our radiation belt models for Jupiter and Saturn will provide a means to calculate the electron radiation flux for orbits which have not been sampled. The PI of this proposal has already been asked to comment on radiation dose models for Jupiter by the ESA and we will continue to discuss our data and computer codes for future collaborations.

General public
Space research is widely held to be an area that attracts young people (11-16) into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The huge success of the BBC's major "Stargazing Live" TV programmes which included hunting for the aurora borealis and live discussions on the Sun-Earth connection (on which the PI featured) is compelling evidence of the public's interest in space research. The growing successes coming from citizen science projects (e.g. the discovery of new exoplanets) is further evidence of the appetite amongst the public for getting involved with Space science. We anticipate significant public interest in our results at the planets and propose significant outreach activities to disseminate results.

Artists
There is a growing interest in the area of "STEAM" - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics as reported by Prof Sir Mark Walport (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40484776). A key activity happening in BAS's new Innovation Centre is regular gatherings of artists with scientists - this has already led to a "sounds of space" collaboration within the radiation belt physics group and will hopefully lead to more. Linking art and the sciences also gives another route to inspire the younger generation.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Dr J D Menietti 
Organisation University of Iowa
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I lead the research project
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of data from the Galileo probae at Jupiter and Cassini spacecraft at Saturn
Impact see our research papers
 
Description Yuri Shprits 
Organisation Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific input to research papers.
Collaborator Contribution Scientific input to research papers.
Impact Shprits, Y. Y., J. D. Menietti, X. Gu, K. C. Kim, and R. B. Horne (2012), Gyro-resonant interactions between the radiation belt electrons and whistler mode chorus waves in the radiation environments of Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, a comparative study, J. Geophys. Res., 117, A11216, doi: 10.1029/2012JA018031. Menietti, J. D., Y. Y. Shprits, R. B. Horne, E. Woodfield, G. B. Hospodarsky, and D. A. Gurnett (2012), Chorus, ECH, and Z-mode emissions observed at Jupiter 2 and Saturn and possible electron acceleration, J. Geophys. Res., 117, A12214, doi: 12210.11029/12012JA018187. Woodfield, E. E., R. B. Horne, S.A. Glauert, J. D. Menietti, and Y. Y. Shprits (2013), Electron acceleration at Jupiter: greater input from cyclotron-resonant interaction with whistler-mode chorus waves, Ann Geophys., 31, 1619-1630, doi:10.5194/angeo-31-1619-2013. not multi-disciplinary
Start Year 2011
 
Description GFZ seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a seminar on my work as part of a collaborative visit to GFZ-Potsdam paid for by Prof Yuri Shprits. The seminar was well received and sparked interesting question. The visit as a whole was exceedingly useful and will result in future publications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Imperial College seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to give a seminar on my work at Imperial College London and to meet with researchers, phd Student and undergraduate students afterwards to discuss collaborations. Approx 30 people attended the seminar which sparked interesting questions and debate afterwards. This was a thoroughly successful visit and I hope that this is the start of very productive collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Juno MWG 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I am now a member of the NASA Juno Magnetospheric Working group. This is a large working group of approx 60 members. I presented an introduction to the work I do soon after becoming a member and there is a telecon once a fortnight. This working group is very important as a means of keeping regularly in touch with what science is being done with the Juno spacecraft.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School visit (Monkfield Reception Classes) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I visited the Reception classes at Monkfield Park Primary School to talk to them about space and my work as a space scientist. I took my inflatable planets with me and engaged with them through a powerpoint presentation. There were approximately 60 students plus a teacher, a trainee teacher and a teaching assistant. The children engaged well given their young age and were very excited to ask if I'd ever met an alien. As a follow up one of the parents asked me for assistance in engaging GCSE level science groups with space activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description School visit (Monkfield Science week 2019, Yr 3) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I visited Monkfield Park Primary School as part of their science week in summer 2019. I did the same session on the "Sounds of Space" to two year 3 classes. The session involved activities for the children to join in with and a Powerpoint demonstration about the sounds of space. There were approximately 60 children overall, 2 teachers and 2 teaching assistants. The children really enjoyed themselves and actively got involved. I have been asked back again for science week in 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stour Astronomy Club (2nd visit) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was invited to speak again at Stour Astronomy Club following my previous successful visit 2 years ago. I gave a new talk on the spacecraft missions that my work uses. Approx 25 people attended and there were many enthusiastic questions after my talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Work Experience Student 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I hosted a work experience student from a local secondary school. He learned about what I do, what my job is like and used data I gave him to produce plots to help my work using Python. I think the week gave him a new set of possibilities for the future. He was an excellent and enthusiastic student . student
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019