The Electron Losses and Fields Investigation
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The Electron Losses and Fields Investigation (ELFIN), is a joint NASA/NSF funded project at the University of California, Los Angeles focusing on eliminating the current deficit in the understanding of the innate physical processes behind geomagnetic storms. Set to launch in 2017, the mission takes advantage of a 3U+ CubeSat design to reduce cost and complexity traditionally associated with a space weather mission of this kind. This mission seeks to quantify the precipitation of relativistic electrons from the radiation belts using a pair of energetic particle detectors (EPDs). The spacecraft will also fly a fluxgate magnetometer (FGM) for determining the pitch angle distribution of the particles, which in conjunction with the EPDs will provide insight to the mechanisms responsible for their loss. Electromagnetic Ion Cyclotron (EMIC) waves are thought to be a significant contributor to the precipitation of electrons trapped in the magnetosphere; however without direct measurement to verify the exact energy range of the particles with high angular resolution, the precise role of these waves is as yet undetermined. ELFIN is unique as it is the first spacecraft that will perform direct pitch angle measurements of the high-energy electrons at the region in the ionosphere where the particles are being lost. Together with correlative measurements from THEMIS, Van Allen Probes and the upcoming ERG mission, ELFIN will provide a unique dataset of magnetospheric wave-particle interactions that will be able to contribute to a marked increase in the fidelity of current space weather models.