For decades, space physicists have assumed that the thin outer layers of our atmosphere, called the plasmasphere, rotate
with the Earth, as Earth's magnetic field pulls these charged particles along.
IMAGE-EUV imaging has shown that the inner plasmasphere when no space weather 'storms' are in progress, actually
rotates at a rate that is 10% slower than Earth so that the particles require about 27-hours to
complete a full trip around the Earth.
Comparisons with the DMSP satellite's ion drift data for the
same events show that this '10%'
corotation lag also exists in the ionosphere where it is caused by a process called the
"ionospheric disturbance dynamo" [see Burch et al., 2004]. This result by IMAGE
has far-reaching implications for scientists who are attempting to
understand, and construct models of an important process called
magnetospheric convection. Until this surprising result, scientists
have always assumed strict corotation of the plasmasphere.
(2003: Sandel et al.)
Related IMAGE Discoveries
Dr. S. Odenwald, email@example.com,
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
July 2004, EVB II