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.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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

NEAR to Touchdown on Surface of Asteroid!

The NEAR spacecraft has been in orbit around the asteroid Eros since Valentine's Day of last year. It has met all of its science goals. It has been a huge success! On top of all that, NEAR will attempt...more

NASA Will IMAGE the Magnetosphere (Updated!)

NASA successfully launched the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft on March 25, 2000. It took almost an hour to get the satellite into orbit around the Earth. So far,...more

The Earth's Magnetic Field

The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The Earth's magnetic field reaches 36,000 miles into space. The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded in a region called the magnetosphere....more

How Does the Earth's Magnetic Field Protect Us From Space Radiation?

Dangerous particles don't hit the Earth's surface because they are forced by the magnetic field to move around the Earth. Particles do enter at the funnels over the poles or they gain entry far downstream...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...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