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Planetary Shields: Magnetospheres
Featured Missions

This mission to Jupiter will map the magnetic field and the magnetosphere near Jupiter's poles, especially the auroras -- Jupiter's northern and southern lights. This data will reveal the planet's interior structure and provide new insights about how the planet's enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is examining the Sun's magnetic field and also provides a better understanding of the role the Sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO will determine how the Sun's magnetic field is generated, structured and converted into violent solar events such as turbulent solar wind, solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These immense clouds of material, when directed toward Earth, can cause large magnetic storms in our planet's magnetosphere and upper atmosphere.

The MESSENGER mission is examining how Mercury's magnetic field interacts with the powerful solar wind.

Cassini Solstice
Cassini's continued journey carries it throughout the huge sphere of magnetic activity that surrounds Saturn. One major discovery was that water ice jets from Enceladus play a major role in Saturn's magnetosphere. Water from the jets loads up the magnetosphere, influencing radio and auroral activity, and even causes changes in the rotation of the magnetic field itself. The Solstice mission will study these phenomena in unexplored areas of the magnetosphere and probe for links to Enceladus in addition to connections with other moons.

THEMIS is investigating what causes auroras in the Earth's atmosphere to dramatically change from slowly shimmering waves of light to wildly shifting streaks of color. Discovering what causes auroras to change will provide scientists with important details on how the planet's magnetosphere works and the important Sun-Earth connection.

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Last Updated: 12 Sep 2014