ESA to Investigate Earth Magnetic Field

The objective of the Swarm mission is to provide the best ever survey of the geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution, and gain new insights into improving our knowledge of the Earth’s interior and climate. The Swarm mission is to launch in mid-2012 on a Russian Eurocket.

The Swarm concept consists of a constellation of three satellites in three different polar orbits between 400 and 550 km altitude. High-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength and direction of the magnetic field will be provided by each satellite. In combination, they will provide the necessary observations that are required to model various sources of the geomagnetic field. GPS receivers, an accelerometer and an electric field instrument will provide supplementary information for studying the interaction of the magnetic field with other physical quantities describing the Earth system — for example, Swarm could provide independent data on ocean circulation.

The multi-satellite Swarm mission will be able to take full advantage of a new generation of magnetometers enabling measurements to be taken over different regions of the Earth simultaneously. Swarm will also provide monitoring of the time-variability aspects of the geomagnetic field, this is a great improvement on the current method of extrapolation based on statistics and ground observations. The geomagnetic field models resulting from the Swarm mission will further our understanding of atmospheric processes related to climate and weather and will also have practical applications in many different areas, such as space weather and radiation hazards. More from the BBC and Raumfahrer (German).


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