Science Seminars

60-year old mystery resolved by our first CubeSat

Speaker: Xinlin Li (LASP)
Date: Thursday, Jan 18, 2018
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: SPSC W120

Seminar Abstract:

Our first CubeSat: Colorado Student Space Weather Experiment (CSSWE), launched on September 13th, 2012 and operated more than two years, is a joint project between the department of AES and LASP and has been a tremendous success in Education, Engineering and Science. More than 65 students have involved with this project, working diligently with mentoring and supervision from experienced LASP engineers. Five Ph.D. dissertations are closely related to this mission, and there have been 21 peer-reviewed papers associated with CSSWE published, with about one-third of these engineering research papers and two-thirds science research papers. Most recently, we have resolved a 60-year-old mystery regarding the source population of inner radiation belt electrons solely based on the measurements of Relativistic Electron and Proton Telescope integrated little experiment (REPTile), the sole science payload onboard. The results were published in Nature in December 2017 [1], leading to a wealth of media, national and international, coverage.

In this presentation, I will review the engineering endeavor leading to the completion of CubeSat systems and describe the data analysis effort leading to the most recent publication in Nature, in which we show direct measurements of relativistic electrons near the inner edge of the inner radiation belt and demonstrate, for the first time, that the main source of these electrons is cosmic-ray albedo neutron decay (CRAND), and that this CRAND process also contributes to electrons elsewhere in the inner magnetosphere.

[1] Li, Xinlin, Richard Selesnick, Quintin Schiller, Kun Zhang, Hong Zhao, Daniel Baker, and Michael Temerin (2017), Measurement of electrons from albedo neutron decay and neutron density in near-Earth space, Nature 552, 382-385, doi:10.1038/nature24642.