ESA satellites reveal weakening of Earth’s magnetic field


By Andrew McDonald, The Space Reporter | June 23, 2014

ESA satellites reveal weakening of Earth’s magnetic field

Data collected by ESA’s Swarm mission indicate that Earth’s magnetic field is weakening.

According to a European Space Agency statement, an ESA mission has revealed recent fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field. Swarm actually consists of a constellation of three satellites that all launched in Nov. 2013 to study our planet’s magnetic field, which blocks cosmic rays and charged particles that otherwise would make Earth unlivable.

The high-resolution measurements by Swarm were made over the last six months. The resultant model shows that the strength of the magnetic field is declining, most especially over the Western Hemisphere. However, in other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean, the field has gotten stronger since Jan. of this year. The results also confirm that Earth’s magnetic north is shifting towards Siberia.

Swarm obtains its measurements from a variety of sources, especially the magnetic signature emitted by Earth’s iron-nickel core. Scientists will continue to parse the data to distinguish the signatures of other magnetic sources, including the magnetosphere, ionosphere, crust, oceans and mantle; they hope to gain a deeper understanding of the magnetic field’s diminishment and other Earth processes.

“These initial results demonstrate the excellent performance of Swarm,” said Rune Floberghagen, Swarm Mission Manager at ESA. “With unprecedented resolution, the data also exhibit Swarm’s capability to map fine-scale features of the magnetic field.”

The new findings were announced on June 19 at the Third Swarm Science Meeting held in Copenhagen. The Swarm mission is led by the National Space Institute of Denmark (DTU Space) in conjunction with 10 other institutions in Europe and Canada. Models based upon Swarm’s data are constructed at the Swarm Satellite Constellation Application and Research Facility. The swarm satellites’ primary scientific tool, the Vector Field Magnetometer, was fashioned at the Technical University of Denmark. Swarm is meant to continue the missions of Denmark’s Ørsted satellite and Germany’s Champ mission.

“I’m extremely happy to see that Swarm has materialized,” said Kristian Pedersen, Director of DTU Space.


Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

Comments
Seven planetary missions receive NASA extensions Seven planetary missions receive NASA extensions
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 05, 2014

Milky Way part of newly discovered supercluster Milky Way part of newly discovered supercluster
Andrew McDonald - Sep 04, 2014

Life after NASA: Astronauts' careers after returning to Earth Life after NASA: Astronauts' careers after returning to Earth
Andrew McDonald - Sep 03, 2014

ISS to get first ever 3D printer in space ISS to get first ever 3D printer in space
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 02, 2014

Geckos sent to space in Russian sex experiment return dead Geckos sent to space in Russian sex experiment return dead
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 02, 2014

New cryotank passes NASA tests New cryotank passes NASA tests
Andrew McDonald - Sep 02, 2014

Mars to be prominent in September evening sky Mars to be prominent in September evening sky
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 01, 2014

Flash memory on Opportunity rover computer to be reformatted Flash memory on Opportunity rover computer to be reformatted
Laurel Kornfeld - Sep 01, 2014

Early galaxy 'Sparky' was a star factory Early galaxy 'Sparky' was a star factory
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

NASA’s “Swarmies” tested for use in space NASA’s “Swarmies” tested for use in space
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

ESA observatory catches white dwarf going supernova ESA observatory catches white dwarf going supernova
Andrew McDonald - Aug 29, 2014

Researchers detect neutrinos in the Sun's core Researchers detect neutrinos in the Sun's core
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 29, 2014

Spitzer telescope observes colliding asteroids around young star Spitzer telescope observes colliding asteroids around young star
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 29, 2014

NASA’s Space Launch System moves toward development stage NASA’s Space Launch System moves toward development stage
Andrew McDonald - Aug 27, 2014

Martian rock deemed unsuitable for Curiosity rover's drilling Martian rock deemed unsuitable for Curiosity rover's drilling
Andrew McDonald - Aug 27, 2014

Telescopes capture unprecedented view of early colliding galaxies Telescopes capture unprecedented view of early colliding galaxies
Andrew McDonald - Aug 26, 2014

Five possible landing spots chosen for Rosetta probe Five possible landing spots chosen for Rosetta probe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

Thigh bone on Mars? NASA weighs in Thigh bone on Mars? NASA weighs in
Ross Cronkrite - Aug 26, 2014

Fermilab experiment questions nature of the universe Fermilab experiment questions nature of the universe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

NASA may delay commercial contract award after failed SpaceX launch NASA may delay commercial contract award after failed SpaceX launch
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 26, 2014

NASA restores Voyager's historic footage of Neptune's strange moon Triton NASA restores Voyager's historic footage of Neptune's strange moon Triton
Ross Cronkrite - Aug 26, 2014

Pluto-bound probe crosses orbit of Neptune Pluto-bound probe crosses orbit of Neptune
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 25, 2014

SpaceX Falcon 9 flew with 3D-printed component SpaceX Falcon 9 flew with 3D-printed component
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

High resolution satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base High resolution satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Tiny Peruvian satellite released from ISS Tiny Peruvian satellite released from ISS
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Rare black hole confirmed using light oscillations Rare black hole confirmed using light oscillations
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

Russian space official claims plankton grew on exterior of ISS Russian space official claims plankton grew on exterior of ISS
Andrew McDonald - Aug 22, 2014

In ancient star, scientists find material from early universe In ancient star, scientists find material from early universe
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 22, 2014

Boeing meets deadline for designing commercial spacecraft Boeing meets deadline for designing commercial spacecraft
Laurel Kornfeld - Aug 21, 2014