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  1. Abstract

    We used the Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer to identify and quantify the duration of relativistic,MeV, electron microbursts. A typical relativistic microburst has amillisecond (ms) duration, and the interquartile range of the duration distribution is 70–140 ms. We investigated trends in the microburst duration as a function of geomagnetic activity, L‐shell, and magnetic local time (MLT). The clearest trend is in MLT: the median microburst duration doubles from 75 milliseconds at midnight to 140 milliseconds noon MLT. This trend is similar to the whistler mode chorus rising tone element duration trend, suggesting a possible relationship.

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  3. Abstract

    This study investigates the energy spectrum of electron microbursts observed by the Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range, and Dynamics II (FIREBIRD‐II, henceforth FIREBIRD) CubeSats. FIREBIRD is a pair of CubeSats, launched in January 2015 into a low Earth orbit, which focuses on studying electron microbursts. High‐resolution electron data from FIREBIRD‐II consist of 5 differential energy channels between 200 keV and 1 MeV and a1 MeV integral channel. This covers an energy range that has not been well studied from low Earth orbit with good energy and time resolution. This study aims to improve the understanding of the scattering mechanism behind electron microbursts by investigating their spectral properties and their relationship with the equatorial electron population under different geomagnetic conditions. Microbursts are identified in the region of the North Atlantic where FIREBIRD only observes electrons in the bounce loss cone. The electron flux and exponential energy spectrum of each microburst are calculated using a FIREBIRD instrument response modeled in GEANT4 (GEometry ANd Tracking) and compared with the near‐equatorial electron spectra measured by the Van Allen Probes. Microbursts occurring when the Auroral Electrojet (AE) index is enhanced tend to carry more electrons with relatively higher energies. The microburst scattering mechanism is more efficient at scattering electrons with lower energies; however, the difference in scattering efficiency between low and high energy is reduced during periods of enhanced AE.

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  4. Abstract

    We evaluate the location, extent, and energy range of electron precipitation driven by ElectroMagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves using coordinated multisatellite observations from near‐equatorial and Low‐Earth‐Orbit (LEO) missions. Electron precipitation was analyzed using the Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range and Dynamics (FIREBIRD‐II) CubeSats, in conjunction either with typical EMIC‐driven precipitation signatures observed by Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) or with in situ EMIC wave observations from Van Allen Probes. The multievent analysis shows that electron precipitation occurred in a broad region near dusk (16–23 MLT), mostly confined to 3.5–7.5 L‐shells. Each precipitation event occurred on localized radial scales, on average ∼0.3 L. Most importantly, FIREBIRD‐II recorded electron precipitation from ∼200 to 300 keV to the expected ∼MeV energies for most cases, suggesting that EMIC waves can efficiently scatter a wide energy range of electrons.

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  5. Abstract

    This study considers the impact of electron precipitation from Earth's radiation belts on atmospheric composition using observations from the NASA Van Allen Probes and NSF Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range, and Dynamics (FIREBIRD II) CubeSats. Ratios of electron flux between the Van Allen Probes (in near‐equatorial orbit in the radiation belts) and FIREBIRD II (in polar low Earth orbit) during spacecraft conjunctions (2015–2017) allow an estimate of precipitation into the atmosphere. Total Radiation Belt Electron Content, calculated from Van Allen Probes RBSP‐ECT MagEIS data, identifies a sustained 10‐day electron loss event in March 2013 that serves as an initial case study. Atmospheric ionization profiles, calculated by integrating monoenergetic ionization rates across the precipitating electron flux spectrum, provide input to the NCAR Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model in order to quantify enhancements of atmospheric HOxand NOxand subsequent destruction of O3in the middle atmosphere. Results suggest that current APEEP parameterizations of radiation belt electrons used in Coupled Model Intercomparison Project may underestimate the duration of events as well as higher energy electron contributions to atmospheric ionization and modeled NOxconcentrations in the mesosphere and upper stratosphere.

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  6. Abstract

    Electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves are known to typically cause electron losses into Earth's upper atmosphere at >~1 MeV, while the minimum energy of electrons subject to efficient EMIC‐driven precipitation loss is unresolved. This letter reports electron precipitation from subrelativistic energies of ~250 keV up to ~1 MeV observed by the Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Burst Intensity, Range and Dynamics (FIREBIRD‐II) CubeSats, while two Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) observed proton precipitation nearby. Van Allen Probe A detected EMIC waves (~0.7–2.0 nT) over the similar L shell extent of electron precipitation observed by FIREBIRD‐II, albeit with a ~1.6 magnetic local time (MLT) difference. Although plasmaspheric hiss and magnetosonic waves were also observed, quasi‐linear calculations indicate that EMIC waves were the most efficient in driving the electron precipitation. Quasi‐linear theory predicts efficient precipitation at >0.8–1 MeV (due to H‐band EMIC waves), suggesting that other mechanisms are required to explain the observed subrelativistic electron precipitation.

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