Exploration of energization and radiation in geospace (ERG): challenges, development, and operation of satellite systems

Nakamura Y., Fukuda S., Shibano Y., Ogawa H., Sakai S., Shimizu S., ...More

EARTH PLANETS AND SPACE, vol.70, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 70
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s40623-018-0863-z
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: ERG, Arase, Radiation belts, Van Allen belts, Geospace, Small satellite, Project
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The exploration of energization and radiation in geospace (ERG) satellite, nicknamed "Arase," is the second satellite in a series of small scientific satellites created by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It was launched on December 20, 2016, by the Epsilon launch vehicle. The purpose of the ERG project is to investigate how high-energy (over MeV) electrons in the radiation belts surrounding Earth are generated and lost by monitoring the interactions between plasma waves and electrically charged particles. To measure these physical processes in situ, the ERG satellite traverses the heart of the radiation belts. The orbit of the ERG is highly elliptical and varies due to the perturbation force: the apogee altitude is approximately 32,200-32,300 km, and the perigee altitude is 340-440 km. In this study, we introduce the scientific background for this project and four major challenges that need to be addressed to effectively carry out this scientific mission with a small satellite: (1) dealing with harsh environmental conditions in orbit and electromagnetic compatibility issues, (2) spin attitude stabilization and avoiding excitation of the libration by flexible structures, (3) attaining an appropriate balance between the mission requirements and the limited resources of the small satellite, and (4) the adaptation and use of a flexible standardized bus. In this context, we describe the development process and the flight operations for the satellite, which is currently working as designed and obtaining excellent data in its mission.