The Moon affects the Earth’s plasmasphere

Scientists have proved that the tidal action of the Moon affects the behavior of the Earth’s plasmasphere. This is a toroidal region outside the ionosphere, full of free electrons and protons.

Earth’s Plasmasphere. Source:

Earth’s Plasmasphere

Scientists from the Hungarian Institute of Earth Physics recently published in the journal Nature Physics a study of how the Moon affects the Earth’s plasmasphere. For this, they used data from 40 years of observation of spacecraft crossing this zone, located outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

The plasmasphere has the shape of a torus, or in other words, a bagel. It starts above the ionosphere and is an even more rarefied medium than it is. Therefore, people usually do not pay much attention to its existence.

However, the plasmasphere is filled with electrons and protons, which in the excited state get here from the ionosphere. The outer boundary of this natural shell of the Earth is called the plasmapause.

What have scientists found out?

In order to find out how the Moon’s gravity affects the plasmasphere, scientists studied about 36,000 of its sections by spacecraft that occurred from 1977 to 2015. In addition, they used data from the Van Allen probes collected from 2012 to 2019.

The result of these studies was the conclusion that our moon really affected the boundaries and geometry of the plasmasphere, just as it caused the tides in the oceans. And these fluctuations of the plasmapause are clearly periodic in nature.

Changes in the Earth’s plasmasphere. Source: Nature Physics

The oscillation period is about one month, which is in good agreement with the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. The researchers identified three main components that determine this process: the actual gravity of our moon, the various fields that exist inside the plasma cloud and the global magnetic field of the Earth.

Further research should show how they interact. But scientists have suggested that similar phenomena should be observed in all such systems consisting of two celestial bodies.

According to

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