Mission allows magnetospheric physicists to “See” the Invisible



Since the launch of Explorer 1 in 1958, magnetospheric physicists have studied regions they could not “see” but could visualize only with the aid of conceptual models that rely on the statistical analysis of measurements made at single points in space at different points in time. Such measurements yielded “pixels” of information that were painstakingly and methodically developed into the mental pictures that reveal the structure and dynamics of our geospace environment. However, with the launch of the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft on March 25, 2000, the magnetospheric physics community has at long last acquired the ability—possessed for many years by the solar physics and astrophysics communities— to see the objects of its inquiry: the plasmas that populate the inner magnetosphere.