EARTH'S MAGNETOSPHERE (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geogrpahy)

News-CRUX-10     21st September 2023        

Context:  Using the data from the Helium, Oxygen, Proton, and Electron (HOPE) Mass Spectrometer and Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS) instrument onboard the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) spacecraft, scientists conducted a statistical study of 22 substorm events for the period of 2018. They investigated the significant characteristics of magnetic field depolarization.

Key Points

  • Magnetospheric substorm: It is a short-lived process that depends on the magnitude and direction of the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF), solar wind velocity, and on the solar wind dynamic pressure.
  • Substorm or brief disturbances in the Earth's magnetosphere and the resultant magnetic field depolarization (reconfiguration of the local magnetic field from stretched tail like to quasi-dipole like) increases heavy ion flux in the inner magnetosphere, providing windows for understanding the change and improving the accuracy of space weather forecasting in the future.


  • About: A magnetosphere is that area of space, around a planet, that is controlled by the planet's magnetic field.
  • Earth’s magnetosphere: The shape of the Earth's magnetosphere is the direct result of being blasted by solar wind. The solar wind compresses its sunward side to a distance of only 6 to 10 times the radius of the Earth. A supersonic shock wave is created sunward of Earth called the Bow Shock.

Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) spacecraft: The Van Allen Probes, formerly known as the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), were two robotic spacecraft that were used to study the Van Allen radiation belts that surround Earth. NASA conducted the Van Allen Probes mission as part of the Living With a Star program.

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