Image of IMAGE in space

Invisible Flow of High-Speed Atoms Detected from the Magnetosheath


During a rare period of time when the magnetosheath was inside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites, the IMAGE satellite observed a significant increase in the intensity of neutral atoms reaching Earth. These particles came in directions of the sky between the location of the Sun and Earth. Calculations and modelling show that particles from the solar wind are expected to interact with the Earth's exosphere to produce almost exactly the data recorded by IMAGE in these sky directions. This means that some charged solar particles can sneak into Earth's environment by being converted into neutral particles that are not affected by Earth's magnetic field.

(2001: Michael R Collier, Thomas E Moore, Mei-Ching Fok, Dennis Chornay, Lutz Rastaetter, Masha Kuznetsova, Ayris Falasca, James Green, Scott Boardsen, Stephen Fuselier, Steve Petrinec, Michelle Thomsen, David McComas, Tamas I Gombosi)

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Additional Information

Magnetosheath - A region of space between the boundary of Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind, where the particles and magnetic fields of the solar wind deliver energy to Earth's magnetic field in space. Typically it is very turbulent, and has a comet-like shape.

Geosynchronous-When a satellite is located 35,786 miles above the Earth they orbit once every 24 hours and appear to 'stand still' over a specific geographic longitude at the equator. This is called a geosynchronous orbit.

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Dr. S. Odenwald,, +1-301-286-6953
NSSDC, Mail Code 630, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
NASA Approval: J. L. Green,
Rev. 1.0.0, 24 April 2003, EVB II