Iannis Dandouras, senior scientist at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse, France, detected the elusive space wind, by analyzing data from the European Space Agency’s Cluster spacecraft.
This plasmaspheric wind contributes to the loss of material from the plasmasphere, a donut-shaped region extending above the Earth’s atmosphere.
“After long scrutiny of the data, there it was, a slow but steady wind, releasing about 1 kg of plasma every second into the outer magnetosphere: this corresponds to almost 90 tonnes every day. It was definitely one of the nicest surprises I’ve ever had!” said Dandouras. The results of his study were published on July 2 in Annales Geophysicae, a journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Iannis Dandouras, also vice-president of the EGU Planetary and Solar System Sciences Division, explained, “The plasmaspheric wind is a weak phenomenon, requiring for its detection sensitive instrumentation and detailed measurements of the particles in the plasmasphere and the way they move.”
The Editor of Annales Geophysicae, Michael Pinnock, also found this new discovery made by the Greek scientist of Diaspora to be really important. “It is a very nice proof of the existence of the plasmaspheric wind. It’s a significant step forward in validating the theory. Models of the plasmasphere, whether for research purposes or space weather applications (e.g. GPS signal propagation) should now take this phenomenon into account,” he wrote.
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