NASA mini-balloon mission gets a magnetic surprise

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Near Earth's magnetic poles, some of Earth's magnetic field - shown as red in this diagram - loops out into space and connects back to Earth. But some of Earth's polar magnetic field connects directly to the sun's magnetic field, shown here in white. [credit: NASA} Near Earth’s magnetic poles, some of Earth’s magnetic field – shown as red in this diagram – loops out into space and connects back to Earth. But some of Earth’s polar magnetic field connects directly to the sun’s magnetic field, shown here in white. [credit: NASA}
Earth’s magnetic field is more dynamic than expected, as Phys.org reports. Old-fashioned observation gets a result.

During the Antarctic summer of 2013-2014, a team of researchers released a series of translucent scientific balloons, one by one.

The miniature membranous balloons – part of the Balloon Array for Radiation-belt Relativistic Electron Losses, or BARREL, campaign – floated above the icy terrain for several weeks each, diligently documenting the rain of electrons falling into the atmosphere from Earth’s magnetic field.

Then in January 2014, BARREL’s observations saw something never seen before.

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