On the Physical Origin and Prediction of Killer Electron Storms


Killer electrons with energies greater than 1 MeV are the main environmental hazard to Earth orbiting satellites, causing single event upsets (SEU) in logic or memory circuits and catastrophic high-voltage discharges due to deep dielectric discharges (DDD). The loss of the Telstar 401 communications satellite on January 11, 1997, was thought to be due to a DDD occurring 24 hours after a sudden, thousand-fold increase in killer electrons. Yet despite the ~40 years of work since the discovery of the outer radiation belts, the origin of killer electrons is still unknown. Measurements taken onboard the POLAR satellite this past year have revealed a population of 20--1500 keV electrons with pitch angles, 60

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Boston University Center for Space Physics

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