Magnetosphere: Not the X-men, but Planetary Protection Against Solar Flares

We have heard a lot about our atmosphere since we were in our elementary years. We know that our atmosphere is composed of the troposphere, that’s the part nearest to our planet, then we have the stratosphere, mesosphere and the thermosphere in ascending order. But where does this magnetosphere comes from and what does it do?

A NASA study has revealed, the Earth’s life-supporting atmosphere would have been severely affected by the Sun’s flares if our planet did not have magnetosphere, Magnetosphere is the natural magnetic bubble which give protection to a planet’s atmosphere. Without it, the atmosphere would be vulnerable to eruptions from the Sun’

On Earth, the magnetosphere deflects a measure of the impact of the solar flares. Without these magnetic bubbles, Earth would become like its neighbor planet,  Venus,  as large eruptions of solar gasses called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) occur intermittently that causes disruptions in the atmospheric composition of a planet.

Glyn Collinson, first author on the paper from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland began work with data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express which made touchdown on Venus in 2006 and conducted an eight-year mission.

On December 19, 2006, the Sun expelled a trivial, slow-moving puff of solar material.

Four days later, this lethargic CME contained enough potency to rip away dramatic volume of oxygen out of Venus’ atmosphere and ejected it  into space where it was lost forever.

Venus is an inhospitable planet, ten times hotter than Earth, with an atmosphere so thick, that the longest recorded duration any spacecraft was able to survived on its harsh surface before being pulverized, is a little over two hours.

Perhaps such susceptibilities to the Sun’s storms is  contributory  to its environment.

Near the Earth, we have spacecrafts that are able to capture CME and observe its effects at close range to the Earth, but it is hardly impossible to track such occurrence near other planets.

“The more we learn about other worlds, the more we learn about the very history of our own home planet, and what made it so habitable for life to begin with,” Collinson added.

Learning just why a minor CME has such a major impact can have profound significance in understanding what makes a planet life-sustaining, concluded the study which was recorded in the Journal of Geophysical Research.




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