Volume 650, June 2021
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||The Sun and the Heliosphere|
|Published online||28 June 2021|
Galactic cosmic ray modulation at Mars and beyond measured with EDACs on Mars Express and Rosetta
LATMOS/IPSL, UVSQ Université Paris-Saclay, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Guyancourt, France
2 European Space Agency, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
3 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
4 Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany
5 European Space Agency, ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany
Accepted: 8 May 2021
Galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) are an intrinsic part of the heliospheric radiation environment and an inevitable challenge to long-term space exploration. Here we show solar-cycle-induced GCR modulation at Mars in the period 2005–2020, along with GCR radial gradients, by comparing Mars Express and Rosetta engineering parameters to sunspot number time series. The engineering parameters used are the error detection and correction (EDAC) counters, cumulative counters that are triggered by charged energetic particles that cause memory errors in onboard computers. EDAC data provide a new way of gaining insight into the field of particle transport in the heliosphere; these data also allow us to complement dedicated radiation instrumentation as EDAC software is present on all spacecraft. This dataset was used to capture variations in GCRs in both space and time, yielding the same qualitative information as ground-based neutron monitors. Our analysis of the Mars Express EDAC parameter reveals a strong solar cycle GCR modulation, with a time lag of ∼5.5 months. By combining Mars Express with Rosetta data, we calculate a 4.7 ± 0.8% increase in EDAC count rates per astronomical unit, which we attribute to a radial gradient in GCR fluxes in accordance with established literature. The potential of engineering data for scientific purposes remains mostly unexplored. The results obtained from this work demonstrate, for the first time for heliophysics purposes, the usefulness of the EDAC engineering parameter, the usefulness of data mining, and the utility of keeping missions operational for many years, all of which provide complimentary data to nominal science instruments.
Key words: cosmic rays / Sun: heliosphere / interplanetary medium / methods: data analysis / space vehicles: instruments / radiation: dynamics
© E. W. Knutsen et al. 2021
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