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NASA-funded ELFIN To Study How Electrons Get Lost

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NASA-funded ELFIN To Study How Electrons Get Lost

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:37 pm

A new CubeSat mission called The Electron Losses and Fields Investigation, or ELFIN, will study one of the processes that allows energetic electrons to escape the Van Allen Belts and fall into Earth. ELFIN is set to launch from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 15, 2018.

When magnetic storms form in near-Earth space, they create waves that jiggle Earth’s magnetic field lines, kicking electrons out of the Van Allen Belts and down into our atmosphere. ELFIN aims to be the first to simultaneously observe this electron precipitation while also verifying the causal mechanism, measuring the magnetic waves and the resulting “lost” electrons.

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Re: NASA-funded ELFIN To Study How Electrons Get Lost

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:39 pm


Credits: UCLA EPSS/NASA SVS

An artist’s depiction of the Van Allen Belts, showing Earth’s magnetic field lines and the trajectories of charged particles trapped by them. The twin ELFIN spacecraft are shown following their inclined polar orbit, traced in yellow.

Three hundred and ten miles above our planet’s surface, near-Earth space is abuzz with action. Here begin the Van Allen Belts, a pair of concentric rings of fast-moving particles and intense radiation that extends more than 30,000 miles farther into space. For the most part these particles are confined to this special region, spiraling along Earth’s magnetic field lines.

But sometimes they come too close and crash into our atmosphere — creating the eye-catching diffuse red aurora, but also potentially interfering with critical communications and GPS satellites that we depend on every day.

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Re: NASA-funded ELFIN To Study How Electrons Get Lost

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:41 pm


Credits: UCLA EPSS

The twin ELFIN CubeSats

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Re: NASA-funded ELFIN To Study How Electrons Get Lost

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:42 pm



During the last five years nearly 250 students have spent thousands of hours designing and building ELFIN, more formally the Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSat.

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