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This is an artist's depiction of the Earth's magnetosphere.
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Courtesy of NASA

NASA Will IMAGE the Magnetosphere
News story originally written on March 20, 2000

NASA will launch its newest satellite on March 25th. The Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) will spend two years studying Earth's magnetosphere. IMAGE will be the first spacecraft to actually "see" the charged particles that make up the field surrounding Earth.

"IMAGE brings to space weather studies the kind of capability that geosynchronous weather satellites have brought to surface meteorology," said Dr. Thomas Moore, IMAGE Project Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. "We may soon be treated to evening news images of plasma clouds engulfing those weather satellites."

IMAGE will have six instruments onboard that will work together to photograph the particles. Scientists say the photos will be combined to create movies. Scientists say this mission is very important to space weather, because the magnetosphere is directly affected by the solar wind.

IMAGE is one of the Explorer Missions NASA has chosen. The project is estimated to cost a total of $154 million -- cheap compared to many space missions.

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