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Surprising Science

How Is the Weather in Space?

Enhancing our understanding of complex space weather, N.A.S.A. scientists have gleaned new insights into the origins of fast-moving electrons during substorms in the Earth’s magnetosphere.

New data from the THEMIS probe launched in 2007 is giving us insight into weather patterns in space: “Back in 2008, data from THEMIS helped overturn a long-standing hypothesis about when the magnetopshere is the most ‘leaky.’ Scientists thought that when the sun’s magnetic field was aligned with that of the earth, there were fewer ‘leaks’ allowing solar particles to penetrate the ‘shield.’ But it turns out that the opposite is true: 20 times more solar particles penetrated the Earth’s magnetophere during periods of alignment, as opposed to when the two magnetic fields were directly opposite.”


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