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Charged Particle Motion in Earth's Magnetosphere

Associations

Green and red aurora

The next time you happen across the mysterious and beautiful dancing lights of the aurora, you might think of the magnetosphere, source of energetic particles that create the auroral light and generator of electric currents that heat the polar ionosphere.

Regions of Earth's magnetosphere

Or your mind may turn to the Sun and solar wind, whence nearly all magnetospheric particles and energy derive.

The solar wind

Or perhaps you will see in your mindís eye a giant fountain of air rising from the polar atmosphere and settling in the tropics, high above the ground.

Auroral-driven circulation in the thermosphere

You might even wonder whether this auroral storm has disrupted communications and navigation systems, or endangered astronauts in space.

Space weather impacts on human society

But wherever your mind may wander, borne by this dazzling display, may you never lose the same sense of mystery that our ancestors felt when beholding this amazing and beautiful silent fire in the polar sky.

Red aurora

Last modified September 2, 2005 by Randy Russell.

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Charged Particle Motion in Earth's Magnetosphere

Motions within Earth's metallic core generate the planet's global magnetic field. This magnetic field extends beyond Earth's surface and atmosphere into the space surrounding our home planet. The interaction...more

Altocumulus

Altocumulus clouds (weather symbol - Ac), are made primarily of liquid water and have a thickness of 1 km. They are part of the Middle Cloud group (2000-7000m up). They are grayish-white with one part...more

Altostratus

Altostratus clouds (weather symbol - As) consist of water and some ice crystals. They belong to the Middle Cloud group (2000-7000m up). An altostratus cloud usually covers the whole sky and has a gray...more

Cirrocumulus

Cirrocumulus clouds (weather symbol - Cc) are composed primarily of ice crystals and belong to the High Cloud group (5000-13000m). They are small rounded puffs that usually appear in long rows. Cirrocumulus...more

Cirrostratus

Cirrostratus (weather symbol - Cs) clouds consist almost entirely of ice crystals and belong to the High Cloud (5000-13000m) group. They are sheetlike thin clouds that usually cover the entire sky. The...more

Cirrus

Cirrus (weather symbol - Ci) clouds are the most common of the High Cloud (5000-13000m) group. They are composed entirely of ice and consist of long, thin, wispy streamers. They are commonly known as...more

Cumulonimbus

Cumulonimbus (weather symbol - Cb) clouds belong to the Clouds with Vertical Growth group. They are generally known as thunderstorm clouds. A cumulonimbus cloud can grow to such heights that it actually...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