Immense cracks in Earth's magnetic field remain open for
hours, allowing the solar wind to gush through and power
stormy space weather, according to new observations from
NASA's IMAGE spacecraft and the joint NASA/European Space
Agency (ESA) Cluster satellites.The cracks were previously detected, but researchers now know
they can remain open for long periods, rather than opening and
closing for just very brief intervals. This new discovery
about how the Earth's magnetic shield is breached is expected
to help space physicists give better estimates of the effects
of severe space weather. IMAGE revealed an area almost the size of California in the arctic upper atmosphere (ionosphere) where a 75 megawatt "proton" aurora flared for hours. This aurora was energetic enough to power 75,000 homes.
(2003: Harald Frey, Tai Phan)
Related IMAGE Discoveries
Aurora - The lights often seen in the northern skies at night,
which take the form of green, red or bluish clouds or curtains of light.
Northern people have watched these in wonder for centuries.
They are produced by currents of charged particles from distant regions
of the magnetic field.
Magnetic Storm - A disturbance in Earth's magnetic field that can
last from a few minutes to several days. Severe storms can cause compass needles to give
the wrong navigation bearings. They signal the presence of powerful currents of charged
particles flowing near Earth in space.
Dr. S. Odenwald, email@example.com, +1-301-286-6953
NSSDC, Mail Code 630, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
NASA Approval: J. L. Green, James.Green@nasa.gov
Rev. 1.0.0, 24 April 2003, EVB