Physics of the Earths Space Environment

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The potential effects of severe space weather are wide ranging:. NASA heliophysics works is the research arm of the nation's space weather effort, coordinating with the U. Geological Survey, and the U. Researching space weather is a complex task because of the intricate interactions between many systems: the sun, the solar wind, Earth's magnetic field, and Earth's atmosphere.

Physics of the Earth's Space Environment: An Introduction

NASA heliophysics employs a diverse fleet of spacecraft to observe these systems. What causes the sun to vary? How do Earth, the planets, and the heliosphere respond? What are the impacts on humanity? What are the impacts of this dynamic space system on humanity? The potential effects of severe space weather are wide ranging: Magnetic storms can interfere with high-frequency radio communications and GPS navigation. Radio communications can be compromised at the poles — an issue for airliners on transpolar routes.

Magnetic storms can cause strong electrical currents in power grids, disrupting utility services. Such electric currents can also appear in oil and gas pipelines, causing early corrosion. Also during , Eugene Parker proposed the idea of the solar wind , with the term 'magnetosphere' being proposed by Thomas Gold in to explain how the solar wind interacted with the Earth's magnetic field.

The later mission of Explorer 12 in led by the Cahill and Amazeen observation in of a sudden decrease in magnetic field strength near the noon-time meridian, later was named the magnetopause. By , the International Cometary Explorer observed the magnetotail, or the distant magnetic field. Magnetospheres are dependent on several variables: the type of astronomical object, the nature of sources of plasma and momentum, the period of the object's spin, the nature of the axis about which the object spins, the axis of the magnetic dipole, and the magnitude and direction of the flow of solar wind.

The planetary distance where the magnetosphere can withstand the solar wind pressure is called the Chapman—Ferraro distance. In this case, the solar wind interacts with the atmosphere or ionosphere of the planet or surface of the planet, if the planet has no atmosphere.

Re-entering the Earth's atmosphere from space - HSC Physics

Venus has an induced magnetic field, which means that because Venus appears to have no internal dynamo effect , the only magnetic field present is that formed by the solar wind's wrapping around the physical obstacle of Venus see also Venus' induced magnetosphere. It is possible that Mars is of this type.

The bow shock forms the outermost layer of the magnetosphere; the boundary between the magnetosphere and the ambient medium.

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For stars, this is usually the boundary between the stellar wind and interstellar medium ; for planets, the speed of the solar wind there decreases as it approaches the magnetopause. The magnetosheath is the region of the magnetosphere between the bow shock and the magnetopause. It is formed mainly from shocked solar wind, though it contains a small amount of plasma from the magnetosphere. This is caused by the collection of solar wind gas that has effectively undergone thermalization.

It acts as a cushion that transmits the pressure from the flow of the solar wind and the barrier of the magnetic field from the object. The magnetopause is the area of the magnetosphere wherein the pressure from the planetary magnetic field is balanced with the pressure from the solar wind.


Because both sides of this convergence contain magnetized plasma, the interactions between them are complex. The structure of the magnetopause depends upon the Mach number and beta of the plasma, as well as the magnetic field. Opposite the compressed magnetic field is the magnetotail, where the magnetosphere extends far beyond the astronomical object. It contains two lobes, referred to as the northern and southern tail lobes.

Magnetic field lines in the northern tail lobe point towards the object while those in the southern tail lobe point away. The tail lobes are almost empty, with few charged particles opposing the flow of the solar wind.

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The two lobes are separated by a plasma sheet, an area where the magnetic field is weaker, and the density of charged particles is higher. Over Earth's equator , the magnetic field lines become almost horizontal, then return to reconnect at high latitudes. However, at high altitudes, the magnetic field is significantly distorted by the solar wind and its solar magnetic field. TEN1 - Examination, 6. The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Written examination. During the course, also continual examination will take place; some activities will provide bonus points which will be added to the written examination.

Tomas Karlsson. Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below.

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Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site. All members of a group are responsible for the group's work. In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used. In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.