THEMIS Dayside Science - Sampling the Bow Shock

  • Released Tuesday, December 16, 2008
  • Updated Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 5:37PM
  • ID: 3569

The movie zooms up to the Earth from the direction of the magnetotail to view the orbits of the THEMIS satellites in their dayside orbital configuration.

In the early part of the mission, the five THEMIS satellites follow the same orbit single-file. The apogee of the orbit takes the spacecraft just beyond the bow shock of Earth's magnetosphere. This enables the closely spaced satellites to measure the thickness of the different regions that they encounter.
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We start out looking along the line of Earth's magnetotail for a view of the Sun, the Earth, and the orbit of the Moon.

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Moving Earthward, just outside the boundary of the magnetosphere, we move to a position above the Moon's orbital plane.

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We move closer to the Earth.

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Now we get a view of the Earth and the orbits of the five THEMIS spacecraft. The yellow arrow reminds us of the direction to the Sun (which determines the direction of the magnetosphere).

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We move in a little closer to better observe the satellites as their orbits carry them in and out of the magnetosphere. This enables them to sample particles and fields in the solar wind outside the magnetsphere and their effects on the magnetosphere as well.

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The spacecraft move back into the magnetosphere towards perigee...

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and then pass back into the solar wind...

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Another orbit completed...


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


This visualization is related to the following missions:


This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

Hipparcos Hipparcos Catalogue (Collected with the Telescope sensor)
SSCweb ephemerides (A.K.A. SSCweb)
Ephemeris | NASA/GSFC Space Physics Data Facility

Satellite ephemerides

Dataset can be found at:

See more visualizations using this data set
Hipparcos Tycho Catalogue (A.K.A. Tycho 2 Catalogue) (Collected with the Telescope sensor)

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

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