Analysis of the Radiation Hazard Observed by RAD on the Surface of Mars During the September 2017 Solar Particle Event


We report dosimetric quantities measured by the Mars Science Laboratory Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) on the surface of Mars during the 10–12 September 2017 solar particle event. Despite 23 g/cm2 of CO2 shielding provided by the atmosphere above RAD, dose rates rose above background galactic cosmic ray levels by factors of 2 to 3 over the course of several hours and leveled off at sustained peak rates for about 12 hr before declining over the following 36 hr. As the solar particle event flux was gradually declining, a shock front reached Mars and caused a sudden drop of about 15% in instantaneous dose rates. No solar particles followed the shock arrival, and the magnetic shielding of galactic cosmic rays by the shock reduced their intensity to levels below those seen before the start of the event. This event is the largest seen to date by RAD on Mars.

Geophysical Research Letters