The IMAGE spacecraft was launched from Vandenberg AFB on March 25, 2000, at 20:34:43 UT.
IMAGE is 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 employs 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 are able to observe, in a way never
before possible, the large-scale dynamics of the magnetosphere and the interactions among its
constituent plasma populations.