Video: Magnetic field update

June 20, 2014, European Space Agency

This animation shows changes in Earth's magnetic field from January to June 2014 as measured by ESA's Swarm trio of satellites.

The protects us from and charged particles that bombard Earth, but it is in a permanent state of flux. Magnetic north wanders, and every few hundred thousand years the polarity flips so that a compass would point south instead of north. Moreover, the strength of the magnetic field constantly changes – and it is currently showing signs of significant weakening.

The field is particularly weak over the South Atlantic Ocean – known as the South Atlantic Anomaly. This weak field has indirectly caused many temporary 'hiccups' (called Single Event Upsets) as the satellites are exposed to strong radiation over this area.

Earth’s ever-changing magnetic field. Credit: ESA/Dot2Dot

Explore further: Video: Earth's wandering magnetic field

Related Stories

Swarm reveals Earth's changing magnetism

June 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —The first set of high-resolution results from ESA's three-satellite Swarm constellation reveals the most recent changes in the magnetic field that protects our planet.

Swarm's precise sense of magnetism

May 8, 2014

(Phys.org) —Although they were launched only five months ago, ESA's trio of Swarm satellites are already delivering results with a precision that took earlier missions 10 years to achieve.

The solar wind breaks through the Earth's magnetic field

June 10, 2014

Space is not empty. A wind of charged particles blows outwards from the Sun, carrying a magnetic field with it. Sometimes this solar wind can break through the Earth's magnetic field. Researchers at the Swedish Institute ...

Satellite's magnetic mapping mission

December 12, 2013

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.

Swarm launch postponed

October 31, 2013

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

Recommended for you

A new classification scheme for exoplanet sizes

September 24, 2018

There are about 4433 exoplanets in the latest catalogs. Their radii have generally been measured by knowing the radius of their host star and then closely fitting the lightcurves as the planet transits across the face of ...

First to red planet will become Martians: Canada astronaut

September 22, 2018

Astronauts traveling through space on the long trip to Mars will not have the usual backup from mission control on Earth and will need to think of themselves as Martians to survive, Canada's most famous spaceman half-jokingly ...

Three NASA missions return first-light data

September 21, 2018

NASA's continued quest to explore our solar system and beyond received a boost of new information this week with three key missions proving not only that they are up and running, but that their science potential is exceptional. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.