Artist's Rendition of Magnetosphere


The Earth's magnetic field extends far out beyond the atmospere, creating the magnetosphere. The size of the magnetosphere fluctuates with the solar wind. The presence of the magnetic field shields the Earth from the charged particles of solar wind plasma, and prevents them from directly hitting Earth. But, there are mechanisms that allow this solar wind plasma to enter the Earth's magnetosphere esspecially during magnetic storms. During these very active periods, satellites, and ground power grids can be severely damaged.

The outer boundary of the magnetosphere is called the magnetopause. Beyond the sunny side of the magnetopause, there is a bow shock, a result of the solar wind moving at supersonic speed. The solar wind squishes the day side of the magnetosphere, and creates a very long tail on the night side. Between the Bow shock and the magnetopause, we find the magnetosheath. Main regions inside the magnetosphere are the tail lobes, plasmasheet, the radiation belts and the plasmasphere.

Schematic of Magnetosphere
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