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Become a nitrogen atom in the nitrogen cycle in our Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit/Game. See all our games, activity kits and classroom activities.
This image is a summary of the main features of the plasmasphere: the plasmapause, main body of the plasmasphere, dusk-bulge region and detached plasma regions outside the main body of the plasmasphere
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The Earth's Plasmasphere

You may have heard your teacher talk about the 4 states of matter. Do you remember what they are? Solids (like your desk), liquids (like the milk you pour in your cereal), gases (like the air you blow into a balloon) and...plasma!

The Earth is actually surrounded by plasma! If you look at the picture to the left, the blue ring is all plasma. It's like the Earth is surrounded by an inner tube made up of plasma...or maybe you'd like to call it a plasma donut. Scientists have a big word for this inner tube or plamsa donut - the plasmasphere.

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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

The Plasma State

Plasma is known as the fourth state of matter. The other three states are solid, liquid and gas.Almost everything is made up of atoms (your dog, your science book, this computer...). The atom has a nucleus...more

Space Missions to study Earth's Atmosphere & Climate

Some satellites study Earth from space. Some of them study our atmosphere and weather. Some take pictures of clouds. Others use special instruments to make measurements of temperature, humidity, or the...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

AU

AU stands for Astronomical Units. It is an easy way to measure large distances in space. It is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is about 93 million miles. For really big distances, we...more

The Spiral of the IMF

The solar wind is formed as the Sun's top layer blows off into space. It carries magnetic fields still attached to the Sun. Streams appear to flow into space as if they are spiraling out from the Sun,...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

The SAR Arc

If someone says they saw an aurora, you might picture something like this. There is another type of aurora that we can't see. These aurora are called SAR arcs. The SAR stands for Stable Auroral Red. That...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF