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Proton flux variations during Solar Energetic Particle Events, minimum and maximum solar activity, and splitting of the proton belt in the South Atlantic Anomaly
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  • Viviane Pierrard,
  • Sylvie Benck,
  • edith botek,
  • Stanislav Borisov,
  • Alexandre Winant
Viviane Pierrard
Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy

Corresponding Author:viviane.pierrard@aeronomie.be

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Sylvie Benck
Universit\'e Catholique de Louvain
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edith botek
Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy
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Stanislav Borisov
Universite' Catholique de Louvain
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Alexandre Winant
Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy
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The analysis of the proton flux variations observed by the Energetic Particle Telescope (EPT) at energies > 9.5 MeV from the launch of PROBA-V satellite on 7 May 2013 up to October 2022 shows an anti-correlation between the proton fluxes and the solar phase. At solar minimum, the fluxes are higher at low L corresponding to the northern border of the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA). This solar cycle modulation of the inner belt is mainly due to losses by increased atmospheric interactions during solar maximum.
Strong Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events, like in January 2014, June 2015 and September 2017, inject energetic protons at high latitudes, but not in the inner belt where protons are trapped at long term at low L. Nevertheless, big geomagnetic storms, including those following SEP a few days after, can cause losses of protons at the outer border of the proton belt, due to magnetic field perturbations.
A double peak in the proton belt is observed during long period of measurements for the EPT channel of 9.5-13 MeV. The narrow gap between the two peaks in the inner belt is located around L=2. This resembles to a splitting of the proton belt, separating the SAA into two different parts, North and South.
The high-resolution measurements of PROBA-V/EPT allow the observation of small-scale structures that brings new elements to the understanding of the different source and loss mechanisms acting on the proton radiation belt at LEO.