Although Earth is vastly protected from the hazards of interplanetary space by the magnetosphere and atmosphere, they do not form an isolated bubble.
The solar wind, a stream of particles continuously blowing from the Sun, compresses Earth’s magnetosphere on the dayside and stretches it into a long tail on the nightside. Most solar wind is deflected by the magnetosphere but some material manages to enter. Understanding how this works is of crucial importance to space-borne infrastructure (GPS, telecommunication satellites) and for the safety of astronauts.
One way to monitor this interaction is to study the convection cells.
For the first time, statistical maps of the convection cells under various solar conditions were derived `with six years of data from ESA's Cluster mission.