This Planeterrella is due to the indestructible will of Emmanuel Masongsong, of the Experimental Space Physics group at the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences. Emmanuel is not only a scientist of many gifts (in physics as well as in medicine), he is also an extremely talented amateur photographer and avid amateur astronomer (http://www.flickr.com/photos/swansongs), and a professional touring musician. He is involved in educating the public about several space experiments, in particular the NASA Themis (http://themis.igpp.ucla.edu) and Artemis (http://artemis.igpp.ucla.edu) missions.
With so many talents, it is not surprising that he was drawn to the Planeterrella and it’s inspiring beauty.
Due to outreach funding cuts, Emmanuel’s journey was an obstacle course but he was able to succeed with a loyal team of student engineers who helped him modify and build the device within budget. Finally, he was able to assemble his Planeterrella in time for a "first light" on November 17, 2013 at a large public event in Los Angeles (http://esp.igpp.ucla.edu/news.html). Here is the email he sent after this event:
"As you can see the room was packed nearly full with people from 11:30-6pm. It was a huge success and tons of fun to explain our research and show off our new Planeterrella, plus we garnered interest from several local teachers to do magnetism activities in their schools. I couldn’t be more pleased!"
An intuitive experimenter, he also sent the pictures below; at his first attempt, he managed to have absolutely perfect auroral ovals and Van Allen belt!
A spectacular video of the UCLA planeterrella is provided at