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Solar wind affects particles hazardous to satellites

Solar wind affects particles hazardous to satellites

A study shows that the speed and magnetic field of the solar wind controls electron flux hazardous to satellites on geostationary orbit. A new predictive model for this electron flux was created based on satellite measurements over a five-year period.

Low-energy electrons in near-Earth space can be hazardous to satellites due to charging effects they may cause. Five years of low-energy electron data from the geostationary orbit of Earth by GOES-13 satellite was analyzed. The statistical analysis showed that low-energy electron fluxes were elevated by increased solar wind velocity for any position on the geostationary orbit. In addition, when the magnetic field carried by the solar wind was southward, the electron fluxes were elevated in about half the orbit, while on the other half the fluxes were not affected. A predictive model of low-energy electrons at geostationary orbit was built based on this data. A new empirical model was constructed to predict electron fluxes in energies between 30 and 200 keV at the different positions at the geostationary orbit. The model uses solar wind speed and magnetic field values to calculate the predicted electron fluxes.

More information:

Researcher Ilkka Sillanpää, tel. +358 50 408 9024,

Researcher Natalia Ganushkina, IMPTAM-mallin kehittäjä,


I. Sillanpää, N. Yu. Ganushkina, S. Dubyagin, J.V. Rodriguez: Electron fluxes at geostationary orbit from GOES MAGED data, Space Weather, doi:10.1002/2017SW001698, 2017.


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