Retro: Cracks in Earth’s Magnetic Shield

Illustration:  An artist’s rendition of NASA’s IMAGE satellite flying through a ‘crack’ in Earth’s magnetic field. SOURCE NASA

from Science@NASA

Dec. 3, 2003:

Earth is surrounded by a magnetic force field–a bubble in space called “the magnetosphere” tens of thousands of miles wide. Although many people don’t know it exists, the magnetosphere is familiar. It’s a far flung part of the same planetary magnetic field that deflects compass needles here on Earth’s surface. And it’s important. The magnetosphere acts as a shield that protects us from solar storms.

According to new observations, however, from NASA’s IMAGE spacecraft and the joint NASA/European Space Agency Cluster satellites, immense cracks sometimes develop in Earth’s magnetosphere and remain open for hours. This allows the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather. . . . Read Complete Report

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