BIRA 50 jaar
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Space Physics

The Sun fills interplanetary space with plasma, a gas of charged particles, in the form of a constant solar wind. Also the Earth’s outer atmosphere, the magnetosphere, is filled with plasma, just like the environments of many other Solar System objects.

Solar WindThe Institute has build a strong theory and modeling programme, deeply rooted in observations provided by ESA’s space missions, Ulysses, Cluster and Rosetta spacecraft.

 

Original image: The Sun expels a continuous solar wind with occasional solar storms. These gasses interact with the Earth’s magnetosphere. ©ESA

Mouse over image: BIRA-IASB actively participates in interpreting observations of the magnetosphere by the four-spacecraft Cluster constellation. ©ESA

 

BIRA-IASB has extensive expertise in:

  • The dynamic behavior of the outer magnetospheric boundary in response to the variable solar wind, which controls the energy input from the solar wind into the magnetosphere
  • The interaction between the outer magnetosphere and the corotating plasma in the inner magnetosphere
  • The coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere as manifested by the aurora or polar lights

These modeling efforts help to mitigate the empiricism still prevailing in present-day space weather forecasting.

 

BIRA-IASB organisation chart: Space Physics Division


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