Jack Atkinson

Scientist, Archer

Radiation Belts

Radiation Belts

The aurora australis above the Halley VI research station
(BAS, Creative Commons)

Surrounding the Earth, and other planets, largely outside the atmosphere, are the radiation belts. First observed in 1958, these regions of space contain a large population of highly energetic electrons and ions trapped by the planetary magnetic field. These are of interest not only as a natural phenomenon, but also because they pose a threat to satellites and ground-based infrastructure, particularly during solar storms and other geomagnetically active periods.

The Sat-Risk project seeks to mitigate this risk by developing a real-time forecasting system for use by the UK Meteorological Office. This model will be based on the BAS Radiation Belt Model (BAS-RBM), initially developed as a research model.

My work and research in this area focuses on the low energy boundary. This region is important as electrons at low energies can undergo acceleration through wave-particle interactions meaning they are a source for the higher-energy belts. I make use of satellite data, in particular the POES series, to explore this region and generate boundary conditions for the BAS-RBM and forecasting model.

Current scientific research topics include: