Drawing of Earth's magnetosphere. Notice that the magnetic field is much larger than the planet!
Click on image for full size
Windows Original Image

The Earth as a Magnet

The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles.

The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded by the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere keeps most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar wind, from hitting the Earth.

Some particles from the solar wind can enters the magnetosphere. These particles create the auroral light shows.

Last modified March 29, 2010 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

How Does the Earth's Magnetic Field Protect Us From Space Radiation?

Dangerous particles from the Sun don't hit the Earth's surface. They are forced by the Earth's magnetic field to move around the Earth. You can think of the Earth's magnetic field as a big shield from...more

Magnetosphere

A magnetosphere has many parts, such as the bow shock, magnetosheath, magnetotail, plasmasheet, lobes, plasmasphere, radiation belts and many electric currents. Particles in the magnetosphere cause aurora...more

NASA Will IMAGE the Magnetosphere

Make way for NASA's next satellite! The Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) will spend two years studying Earth's magnetosphere. The launch will be March 25th. IMAGE will take...more

The Moon's Magnetosphere

Unlike the Earth, which has a protective shield around it called the magnetosphere, the surface of the moon is not protected from the solar wind. This picture shows the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth,...more

Spiral Path of Material

For a planet to be affected by a blob of material being ejected by the sun, the planet must be in the path of the blob, as shown in this picture. The Earth and its magnetosphere are shown in the bottom...more

Magnetosphere of Ganymede

Did you know that some of the planets and moons can be magnetic? Earth is! The Galileo spacecraft found out that a moon of Jupiter, Ganymede, is magnetic too! ...more

Magnetic Fields Near Planets

A magnetometer is an instrument for measuring magnetic fields. Many spacecraft carry magnetometers to measure the magnetic fields around planets. When a spacecraft makes those measurements, what do the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA