This plot shows about 7 days of observed daily electron fluences from the GOES satellite, along with forecast fluences from the BAS Radiation Belt Model. The fluences are calculated at 00:15 each day. The blue square to the right of the black vertical line is the fluence forecast for the coming day.

On the >2 MeV plot, daily fluences above the red horizontal line indicate “high” risk. This level is defined in Wrenn and Smith, 1996 & Wrenn et al., 2002.

Internal charging:  High energy electrons can penetrate the outer layers of a satellite and accumulate in insulators such as cables and dielectrics on circuit boards.  If the charge builds up faster than it can leak away it can cause an electrostatic discharge and break down the material permanently.  This has led to loss of service and in some cases total satellite loss.  The periods most at risk correspond to periods of high electron flux.

The BAS radiation belt model is used to provide a forecast of the 2 MeV electron flux in the outer Van Allen radiation belt.  The model uses data from the ACE satellite and a forecast of geomagnetic activity to make the forecasts.  The model solves a diffusion equation that takes into account the transport of electrons across the magnetic field towards and away from the planet (radial diffusion), electron acceleration by wave-particle interactions, electron loss into the atmosphere by wave-particle interactions and collisions with atmospheric gasses.  Changes in the interplanetary magnetic field and the solar wind dynamic pressure are used to determine the outer boundary of the Earth’s magnetic field which affects radial transport.  The injection of low energy electrons during substorms is represented by changes in the electron flux at the low energy boundary and by scaling the wave power by geomagnetic activity.  Three types of wave-particle interactions are included in the model.


The flux of electrons can vary significantly around the geostationary arc.  The GOES satellites only provide a snapshot at one or two locations.  The model can be tailored to other locations.


Key features are

  • The forecasts cover the three main orbit types where most commercial satellites fly
  • The forecasts are based on a physical model
  • The forecasts include the physics of wave-particle interactions
  • The forecasts can be tailored to specific satellites at GEO or other orbits.

For more details on the model see

Glauert et al. J. Geophysical Res., [2014]:

Horne et al. Space Weather, [2013]: