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Planetary Magnetism - Windows to the Universe

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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
This is a drawing of Earth with its magnetic field.
Click on image for full size

Planetary Magnets

The Earth is a good example of a planetary dipole, where the lines of force point in a direction out of the South (magnetic) Pole and into the North (magnetic) Pole. Planets can also show evidence of quadrupoles (4 poles) and octupoles (8-poles). Jupiter and Saturn are good examples of multi-pole planetary magnetism.

Not every planet has a magnetic field. It takes special conditions to generate a magnetic field within a planet. Other planets known to have a magnetosphere include Mercury, Mars (perhaps), Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Venus is special case of a rocky planet with no magnetic field.

Last modified June 23, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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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