Institute for Space Science, Exploration and Technology

Outer Radiation Belt Injection, Transport, Acceleration and Loss Satellite (ORBITALS)

The outer radiation belt injection, transport acceleration and loss satellite (ORBITALS) is a small Canadian satellite lead by the University of Alberta and proposed as a Canadian mission contribution to the International Living with a Star (ILWS) program. The ORBITALS mission will provide a unique view of the largely previously unexplored inner magnetosphere and will undertake a voyage of discovery targeting the dynamics of the Earth's radiation belts, plasmasphere and ring current. In combination with the approved NASA LWS Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), the ORBITALS-RBSP constellation will have the necessary spatial coverage to resolve the spatio-temporal ambiguities and global dynamics and morphology of the Earths radiation belts.

The mission goal to "understand the acceleration, global distribution, and variability of energetic electrons and ions in the inner magnetosphere" is perfectly aligned with the top geospace priority for the LWS and ILWS programs. In a 12-hour orbit, the ORBITALS satellite will come into daily conjunctions with the ground-based Canadian Geospace Monitoring (CGSM) instrumentation.

The ORBITALS meets the plea from the LWS Mission Operations Working Group for the international provision of additional probe coverage to complement the RBSP within LWS. ORBITALS will hence provide Canada with a unique leadership role at the forefront of the highest priority science goals for ILWS. The ORBITALS is a $150M CAD mission currently undergoing a CSA funded $1.7M Phase A design study, and is proposed for launch in 2012.