High fluences of low energy (10–25 MeV/amu) C, N, O and heavier ions at 450 km altitude; results from the skylab experiment
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High fluences (i.e. the integrated fluxes) of C, N, O group of nuclei and some of the heavier ones, in the energy interval 10–25 MeV/amu, have been identified in a Lexan polycarbonate detector assembly exposed on the exterior of the Skylab for 73 days. The existence of large flux of low energy nuclei in the Skylab orbit is surprising since the minimum geomagnetic cut-off energy for fully stripped nuclei (A/Z=2) is ≃50 MeV/amu at the orbit of the satellite, and the period of exposure was a ‘quiet’ one, free from significant solar particle events. We have considered two sources for these particles: (i) partly ionized interplanetary ions accelerated within the magnetosphere and (ii) heavy nuclei trapped in the Earth's radiation belt. The flux and composition of the nuclei observed by us seem to be significantly different from those in the trapped radiation as known at present; hence it seems likely that the major part of the observed flux may be interpreted, in terms of partly ionized interplanetary ions that are further accelerated in the magnetosphere.
KeywordsMajor Part Polycarbonate Heavy Nucleus Energy Interval Radiation Belt
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