Satellite's magnetic mapping mission

Dec 12, 2013
Satellite’s magnetic mapping mission
Although invisible, the magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on everyday life.

A scientist from the University of Liverpool will play a leading role in the European Space Agency's (ESA) satellite mission to study the Earth's geomagnetic field.

Dr Richard Holme, from the School of Environmental Sciences, leads the team responsible for the vector magnetic calibration for the mission, called Swarm.

Swarm consists of three identical satellites which have successfully launched into space from Plesetsk, Russia, near the Arctic coast. Their super-sensitive instrumentation acts like a 3-D compass, enabling the precise strength and direction of the to be determined all around the globe.

Dr Holme said: "This will help us to measure precisely the magnetic signals from Earth's core, mantle, crust and oceans, as well as ionosphere and magnetosphere. What is new is to have multiple measurements in orbit at the same time but in different locations.

"This will allow us for the first time to distinguish directly between field sources internal and external to the Earth. The resulting models will give us an insight into Earth's interior and space weather."

Although invisible, the magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on everyday life. The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard Earth in 'solar winds'. This shield also protects the atmosphere, and so likely played an important role in the development of life on Earth.

As well as furthering science, the measurements delivered by the three Swarm satellites will be valuable for a range of applications including improving the accuracy of navigation systems and cartography, and improving the efficiency of prospecting and drilling for natural resources.

Explore further: Swarm launch postponed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Swarm launch postponed

Oct 31, 2013

The launch of ESA's magnetic field mission from Plesetsk, Russia, has been postponed by about a week.

Preparing to launch Swarm

Sep 20, 2013

With the launch of ESA's Swarm trio set for 14 November, the first satellite has arrived safely at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. This new mission will unravel one of the most mysterious aspects of our ...

ESA SWARMing Earth's magnetic field

Nov 25, 2013

ESA's three-satellite Swarm constellation was lofted into a near-polar orbit by a Russian Rockot launcher this afternoon. For four years, it will monitor Earth's magnetic field, from the depth of our planet's ...

Swarm constellation heads north

Feb 20, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The three satellites that make up ESA's Swarm magnetic field mission were presented to the media today. Following a demanding testing programme, the satellites were displayed in the cleanroom ...

Recommended for you

India's spacecraft 'on target' to reach Mars

11 hours ago

An Indian spacecraft is on course to reach Mars, an official said Monday, following a 666-million-kilometre voyage that could see New Delhi's low-cost space programme win Asia's race to the Red Planet.

Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J

13 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk ...

User comments : 0