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This image was taken by IMAGE's EUV imager instrument on August 11, 2000. IMAGE was looking down on the Earth from above the north pole. In this false-color image, you can see a circle in the middle where the Earth is. You can see the Earth's own shadow cast to the bottom left. You can see glowing near the center of the circle - that's the auroral lights. And finally, you can see the tail of the magnetosphere (upper left) being swept back by the solar wind.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA and the IMAGE science team

IMAGE Shows off its Best Stuff!
News story originally written on February 5, 2001

There has been a lot of exciting news about space missions in the last week! The International Space Station is soon to have visitors, NEAR will land on an asteroid soon and the IMAGE spacecraft has been showing off its best stuff!

The IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause -to- Aurora Global Exploration) spacecraft was launched on March 25, 2000. IMAGE has been studying the Earth's magnetosphere, the region about the Earth that contains the Earth's magnetic field. IMAGE is the first spacecraft to take whole pictures of the Earth's magnetic field. One of those pictures is to the left. This picture shows the Earth's magnetosphere including a tail-like structure. A magnetotail had been predicted over 30 years ago, and now we have confirmation!

The magnetosphere of the Earth acts as a shield against the possibly dangerous solar wind particles that flow from the Sun. But sometimes, explosive events on the Sun can charge the magnetosphere with energy that causes storms. These storms can have harmless effects like causing the auroral lights or they can have harmful effects like damaging satellites or power grids on Earth. So, the IMAGE mission is really important in helping us understand the space weather which affects life on Earth.

Last modified February 5, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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