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Folding Paper Model of the Magnetosphere

Below are instructions for making a simple paper model of the magnetosphere, out of a single sheet of paper.
  Read the instructions below first, then link to an image of the model. Print the image, then fold the printout or a xerox copy of it (preferably, one copied onto thick "construction" paper) according to the instructions.

The preferred image to use is a high-resolution black-and-white one, using file wfold.jpg (332 Kb, may take some seconds to load). However, it may not print with every browser. Internet Explorer 4.5 (Macintosh) performed well, so did Netscape 7.0, but not Netscape 4.7. To bring up the image link to cutout.html and then print the screen.

For paper models in other languages, click here for Spanish or here for French.

    Otherwise, you may bring up to view and perhaps print one of two low-resolution images, in black and white (click here for Spanish and here for French) or in color (English only). You may also experiment with intermediate resolution images: Spanish or French. The black and white image can be copied in an ordinary xerox machine and may be colored by you or by students in whichever way is preferred. However, if you have a color printer, especially one that can handle construction paper, you might want the color version. Either version is printed out lengthwise, like an ordinary sheet of text.


  1. If the black-and-white image is used and you wish to color different regions, do that first. Colors may distinguish the Plasma Sheet (including area marked "Plasma Convection?"), Plasma Mantle and Low Latitude Boundary Layer (use same color), Tail Lobes and Inner Radiation Belt. The region outside the magnetosphere (in the solar wind) may be left white or given a light color. You may link to the color image above and use it as a guide.

    Note that lines on the bottom of the model (the part which will be horizontal after assembly) are boundary lines between regions, while lines on the long vertical section are magnetic field lines. However, those field lines that connect to boundary lines on the bottom piece also form part of the region boundaries.

  2. Using a straightedge, score the paper by drawing hard lines along the two main crossed lines with a ballpoint pen (preferably black) or with a stylus.

  3. Cut out the area marked "Cut Out" but leave tab intact.

  4. Crease along the scores, then fold to produce a three-sided corner with the printed picture on the inside.

  5. Use tape to attach the tab to the back side of the panel carrying the words "Tail Lobes" and "Plasma Sheet," to hold the paper in its folded position. If no tape is available, carefully cut a slot in the marked place to the right of the words "Plasma Sheet" and insert the end of the tab.

Last updated 25 November 2001