magnetosphere

We’ve discovered the world’s largest drum – and it’s in space

Universities in the US have long wrangled over who owns the world’s largest drum. Unsubstantiated claims to the title have included the “Purdue Big Bass Drum” and “Big Bertha”, which interestingly was named after the German World War I cannon and ended up becoming radioactive during the Manhattan Project

Hubble observes energetic lightshow at Saturn’s north pole

Hubble observes energetic lightshow at Saturn’s north pole

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space telescope have taken a series of spectacular images featuring the fluttering auroras at the north pole of Saturn. The observations were taken in ultraviolet light and the resulting images provide astronomers with the most comprehensive picture so far of Saturn’s northern aurora.

NASA Mission Surfs through Waves in Space to Understand Space Weather

NASA Mission Surfs through Waves in Space to Understand Space Weather

The space surrounding our planet is full of restless charged particles and roiling electric and magnetic fields, which create waves around Earth. One type of wave, plasmaspheric hiss, is particularly important for removing charged particles from the Van Allen radiation belts, a seething coil of particles encircling Earth, which can interfere with satellites and telecommunications. A new study published in Journal of Geophysical Research using data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes spacecraft has discovered that hiss is more complex than previously understood.

NASA Mission Uncovers Dance of Electrons in Space

NASA Mission Uncovers Dance of Electrons in Space

You can’t see them, but swarms of electrons are buzzing through the magnetic environment — the magnetosphere — around Earth. The electrons spiral and dive around the planet in a complex dance dictated by the magnetic and electric fields. When they penetrate into the magnetosphere close enough to Earth, the high-energy electrons can damage satellites in orbit and trigger auroras. Scientists with NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission study the electrons’ dynamics to better understand their behavior. A new study, published in Journal of Geophysical Research revealed a bizarre new type of motion exhibited by these electrons.

Damaging electric currents in space affect Earth’s equatorial region, not just the poles

Damaging electric currents in space affect Earth’s equatorial region, not just the poles

The Earth’s magnetic field – known as the “magnetosphere” – protects our atmosphere from the “solar wind.” That’s the constant stream of charged particles flowing outward from the sun. When the magnetosphere shields Earth from these solar particles, they get funneled toward the polar regions of our atmosphere.

NASA’s MMS Delivers Promising Initial Results

NASA’s MMS Delivers Promising Initial Results

Just under four months into the science phase of the mission, NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, is delivering promising early results on a process called magnetic reconnection — a kind of magnetic explosion that’s related to everything from the northern lights to solar flares.