This Video Will Make You Grateful for the Earth’s Magnetosphere

by Fraser Cain on June 19, 2012

A newly released video from NASA showcases the space agency’s data visualization skills, as well as the dramatic science behind the Sun’s powerful coronal mass ejections and their interactions with the Earth’s magnetosphere and climate. These ejections stripped the lighter elements away from Venus long ago, leaving the planet with a desolate, hostile environment. But in this animation, you can watch as the particles from the solar wind are redirected around the Earth, keeping us safe – and hydrated.

This video is actually an excerpt from a longer video called Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth’s Climate Engine, which is playing at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C; this portion showcases the interaction between the Sun’s solar wind and the Earth’s ocean currents. What’s really amazing about this video is that the underlying data visualizations are based on real satellite observations. The swirling ocean currents were created from real ocean current data.

Still sitting on the fence, finger hovering over the play button, not sure if you should spend a few minutes of your valuable time? You might be interested to know that the video was recently chosen as a “select entry” for the 2012 SIGGRAPH conference, held in Los Angeles on Aug. 5 to 9, 2012. This is the conference where all the film studios showcase their 3D graphics work. A NASA video chosen as a select entry? I like their taste.


Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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