Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration
The IMAGE spacecraft was launched from Vandenberg AFB on 25 March 2000, at 20:34:43 UT. IMAGE was the first satellite mission dedicated to imaging the Earth's magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by the Earth's magnetic field and containing extremely tenuous plasmas of both solar and terrestrial origin. Invisible to standard astronomical observing techniques, these populations of ions and electrons have traditionally been studied by means of localized measurements with charged particle detectors, magnetometers, and electric field instruments. Instead of such in situ measurements, IMAGE employed a variety of imaging techniques to "see the invisible" and to produce the first comprehensive global images of the plasma populations in the inner magnetosphere. With these images, space scientists were able to observe, in a way never before possible, the large-scale dynamics of the magnetosphere and the interactions among its constituent plasma populations.