Energetic particles detected by the Electron Reflectometer instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor, 1999-2006

Gregory T. Delory, Janet G. Luhmann, David Brain, Robert J. Lillis, David L. Mitchell, Richard A. Mewaldt, Thea Vilstrup Falkenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

We report the observation of galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles by the Electron Reflectometer instrument aboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft from May of 1999 to the mission conclusion in November 2006. Originally designed to detect low-energy electrons, the Electron Reflectometer also measured particles with energies >30 MeV that penetrated the aluminum housing of the instrument and were detected directly by microchannel plates in the instrument interior. Using a combination of theoretical and experimental results, we show how the Electron Reflectometer microchannel plates recorded high energy galactic cosmic rays with similar to 45% efficiency. Comparisons of this data to galactic cosmic ray proton fluxes obtained from the Advanced Composition Explorer yield agreement to within 10% and reveal the expected solar cycle modulation as well as shorter timescale variations. Solar energetic particles were detected by the same mechanism as galactic cosmic rays; however, their flux levels are far more uncertain due to shielding effects and the energy-dependent response of the microchannel plates. Using the solar energetic particle data, we have developed a catalog of energetic particle events at Mars associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which includes the identification of interplanetary shocks. MGS observations of energetic particles at varying geometries between the Earth and Mars that include shocks produced by halo, limb, and backsided events provide a unique data set for use by the heliophysics modeling community.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberS06003
JournalSpace Weather
Volume10
Issue number6
Number of pages23
ISSN1542-7390
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • ASTRONOMY
  • GEOCHEMISTRY
  • METEOROLOGY
  • CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS
  • MICROCHANNEL PLATES
  • MAGNETIC-FIELD
  • SOLAR-WIND
  • RADIATION ENVIRONMENT
  • DETECTION EFFICIENCY
  • GEOMAGNETIC STORMS
  • OUTER HELIOSPHERE
  • SPACE WEATHER
  • 5.4 AU

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