Student: Joshua Doucette, Undergraduate Student in Physics and Mathematics, University of Iowa
Research Mentor: Allison N. Jaynes
Identifying Cases of Radial Diffusion Driven Acceleration in Earth’s High-Energy Radiation Belts
Chorus is a type of electromagnetic wave. Chorus waves can resonate with and accelerate Earth’s radiation belt electrons to relativistic energies. If electrons in Earth’s magnetosphere accelerate quickly enough, we say that the electrons experienced an enhancement. The goal of this project is to find indisputable evidence of multiple high-energy electron enhancements without the presence of chorus, as it is still undetermined whether chorus is the dominant cause of massive increases in the energy of radiation belt electrons. To investigate electron enhancements, I have been writing algorithms in IDL to use data from the REPT (Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope) instrument on the Radiation Belt Storm Probe Fleet. I have been using these algorithms to look for dates where the average electron flux for a certain McIlwain L-parameter range was 3 times greater than the day before in high energy channels. Any date that passes this test is named an enhancement. Using physics-based techniques to infer chorus from LEO measurements of electron flux and NOAA’s POES’s SEM-2 data, we can obtain a global picture of chorus in both L and magnetic local time for any date we have electron enhancements. Any events that are out of the ordinary are flagged. A statistical study will be done when completed noting how many of the events can be explained with radial diffusion and how many are left with no current explanation.