Beyond a certain height, the dynamics is controlled by the geomagnetic field. This region, referred to as the magnetosphere extends from the top of the ionosphere to 10 RE (1 RE is approximately 6370 km) on the day side up the orbit of the moon and beyond on the night side. The continuous stream of particles, the solar wind emanating from the sun compresses the geomagnetic field on the day side and pulls it out in the form a long tail in the night side. The study of dynamic interaction of the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field with the magnetosphere leading to geomagnetic storms, sub-storms, ionospheric storms and a variety of other phenomenon are part of the very active research at the Institute. Apart from ground magnetic field observations, satellite observations made in the magnetosphere and the interplanetary medium are routinely used in such analysis.
The magnetosphere acts as a large plasma environment which can support linear and non-linear waves with wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Bulk of the work in theoretical magnetospheric physics deals with investigation of instabilities and resonance phenomenon that account for the wide range of observations. More recently the Institute has also embarked on real time simulations now possible because of the augmentation of the computational facilities at the Institute.
Apart from individual plasma processes, because of the wide range of expertise available in situ, emphasis has also been on the study of the electrodynamics of the neutral atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere as parts of a single gigantic global electrical circuit because of its relevance to solar-terrestrial-weather connections.