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Cluster’s 20 years of studying Earth’s magnetosphere

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This artist’s impression shows Earth’s bow shock, a standing shockwave that forms when the solar wind meets our planet’s magnetosphere. Credit: ESA/AOES Medialab Despite a nominal lifetime of two years, ESA’s Cluster is now entering its third decade in space. This unique four-spacecraft mission has been revealing the secrets of Earth’s magnetic environment since 2000 and, with 20 years of observations under its belt, is still enabling new discoveries as it explores our planet’s relationship with the Sun.

As the only planet known to host life, Earth occupies a truly unique place in the Solar System. The Cluster mission , launched in the summer of 2000, was designed and built to study perhaps the one main thing that makes Earth a unique habitable world where life can thrive. This one life-enabling thing is Earth’s powerful magnetosphere, which protects the planet from the bombardment by cosmic particles but also interacts with them, creating spectacular phenomena, such as polar lights.

Earth’s magnetosphere, a tear drop-shaped region that begins some 65,000 kilometers away from the planet on the day side and extends up to 6,300,000 kilometers on the night side, is a result of the interaction between the planet’s magnetic field, generated by the […]

read more here —> phys.org

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