Sun  ID: 4241

Radiation Belts & Plasmapause

The near-Earth space enviroment is a complex interaction between Earth's magnetic field, cool plasma moving up from Earth's ionosphere, and hotter plasma coming in from the solar wind. This interactions combine to maintain the radiation belts around Earth.

Plasma interactions can generate sharply delineated regions in these belts. In addition to the inner and outer radiation belts, the cooler plasma of the plasmasphere interacts so that it keeps out the higher-energy electrons from outside its boundary (called the plasmapause).

In this visualization, the radiation belts (rainbow-color) and plasmapause (blue-green surface) surround Earth, its structure largely determined by Earth's dipole magnetic field (represented by cyan curved lines). The radiation belt is sliced open, simultaneously revealing representative confined charged particles spiraling around the magnetic field structure. Yellow particles represent negative-charged electrons, blue particles represent positive-charged ions. However, if realistically scaled for particle mass and energies, the spiral motion would not be visible at this distance so particle masses and size scales are adjusted to make them visible.

The inner blue-green plasmapause boundary is then sliced open to reveal more of the inner structure of the radiation belts, including the innermost belt.

For More Information

Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (GST): Lead Animator
Genna Duberstein (USRA): Producer
Shrikanth G. Kanekal (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
David G. Sibeck (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Laurence Schuler (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Project Support
Ian Jones (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Project Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

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Data Used:
Van Allen Probes/Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite 2003-09-02

SVS >> Geomagnetic Field
SVS >> Magnetic Fields
SVS >> Plasmasphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions >> Ionosphere/Magnetosphere Particles >> Electron Flux
SVS >> Plasmapause
SVS >> Radiation Belts
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Sun

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version