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Cluster Makes Crucial Step In Understanding Space Weather
Tuesday, July 27th 2010, 2:36 AM EDT
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Researchers using the four spacecraft of ESA's Cluster mission have uncovered the long journey that energetic ions undergo during geomagnetic storms and how they ultimately precipitate into the Earth's atmosphere. Such precipitation affects the composition of the ionosphere, preventing GPS and communications satellites from operating correctly.

The Earth's magnetic field acts a buffer zone, shielding the Earth from the permanent flow of ionised matter coming from the Sun. As a result of the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's field, a protective bubble known as the magnetosphere is formed.

This comprises a complex mixture of electric and magnetic fields, charged particles and resultant current systems. One such system, the so-called Ring current, forms in a doughnut shape around the Earth, and is caused by trapped particles, from either the solar wind or from the Earth's ionosphere, gyrating around the magnetic field lines of the Earth. Changes in the ring current are responsible for global decreases in the Earth's surface magnetic field.

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Source Link: spacedaily.com
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