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IMAGE Mission: Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration

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Abstract

Since the launch of Explorer 1 in 1958, physicists have studied magnetospheric plasma regions by only being immersed in them. This was done by creating large databases of in situ observations taken at vastly different times and under different magnetospheric conditions. This approach allowed models of these regions to be created that offered some insight as to global processes. In most cases these models were also pushed beyond their limits in an effort to try and describe the structure and dynamics of our geospace environment under all solar wind conditions. That all changed with the launch of the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft on March 25, 2000. The overall objective of the IMAGE mission was to answer the key question: How does the magnetosphere respond globally to the changing conditions in the solar wind?

IMAGE was designed to observe vast plasma regions of the inner magnetosphere before, during, and after geomagnetic storms using neutral atom imaging (NAI) at various energies, far ultraviolet imaging (FUV), extreme ultraviolet imaging (EUV), and radio plasma imaging (RPI). These revolutionary instruments provided detailed images of aurora, the ring current, and the plasmasphere at minutes to tens of minute resolution that have greatly changed our view of magnetospheric dynamics. It is not possible to discuss all the results that IMAGE observations have contributed to the understanding of space weather, but we will provide a brief overview concentrating on the ring current and plasmasphere.

Keywords

  • Aurora
  • Disturbance storm time (DST) index
  • Geocorona
  • Geomagnetic storm
  • IMAGE mission
  • Imaging
  • Magnetosphere
  • Neutral atom imaging
  • Plasmasphere
  • Radio plasma imaging (RPI)
  • Radio sounding
  • Ring current
  • Substorm
  • Ultraviolet imaging

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Correspondence to James L. Green .

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Green, J.L. (2015). IMAGE Mission: Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration. In: Pelton, J., Allahdadi, F. (eds) Handbook of Cosmic Hazards and Planetary Defense. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-03952-7_29

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