Radiation belts


The Earth's trapped radiation belts were discovered at the beginning of the space age and were immediately recognised as a considerable hazard to space missions. Consequently, considerable effort was invested in building models of the trapped proton and electron populations, culminating in the NASA AP-8 and AE-8 models which have been the de facto standards since the seventies.

The CRRES mission has demonstrated that the trapped radiation environment is much more complex than the static environment described by the old models. Spatial and especially temporal variations were shown to be much more important than previously thought, and to require more complex models than those in use at that time.

Such models are now becoming available, but they are limited in spatial or temporal coverage, and no global, dynamic, trapped radiation belt model is forthcoming. It is therefore vital to co-ordinate future modelling efforts in order to develop new standard models.

The Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) has developed for the European Space Agency (ESA) a web interface to models of the space environment and its effects on spacecraft and systems: SPace ENVironment Information System (SPENVIS).




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