magnetic local time (MLT)


ECSS-E-ST-10-04C Rev.1


parameter analogous to longitude, often used to describe positions in near-Earth space


  • NOTE Pressure from the solar wind distorts the Earth magnetic field into a comet-like shape. This structure remains fixed with its nose towards the Sun and the tail away from it as the Earth spins within it. Hence longitude, which rotates with the Earth, is not a useful way of describing position in the magnetosphere. Instead, magnetic local time is used. This has value 0 (midnight) in the anti-sunward direction, 12 (noon) in the sunward direction and 6 (dawn) and 18 (dusk) perpendicular to the sunward/anti-sunward line. This is basically an extension of the local solar time on Earth, projected vertically upwards into space although allowance is made for the tilt of the dipole.
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