Animation of a coronal mass ejection impacting Mars, Earth, and Jupiter. Credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Bailee DesRocher
A magnetosphere is the magnetic field shields a planet against the Sun's dangerous radiation. Not all magnetospheres are alike. This animation depicts the unique magnetospheres around Earth, Mars, and Jupiter. To demonstrate their strength, each planet's magnetosphere receives a direct hit from a coronal mass ejection (CME) - a cloud of dense radiation and magnetic field from the Sun.
The impact of the CME on the planet depends on the strength of the magnetosphere. On Mars, the magnetosphere is weak and patchy, resulting in some loss of the planet's atmosphere. At Earth, the magnetosphere acts as a buffer, deforming from the impact, but protecting the planet. For Jupiter, the punch of the CME is barely felt by the massive magnetic field.