dinsdag 26 november 2013

ESA's Swarm Satellites Begin To Monitor Earth's Magnetic Shield And Its Weakening

MessageToEagle.com - Fortunately, on Earth we have two very effective lines of defence: the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field that make our life possible on this planet.
Without this shield we cannot live on our planet.
However, research shows the magnetic field is weakening and scientists are trying to understand why. They would also like to understand how the geomagnetic field is evolving over time.
Some believe it signals a pole reversal in progress, not an uncommon phenomenon in the history of our planet. This has not happened for 780,000 years, but the phenomenon doesn't seem to be a regular occurrence through geological time.

The magnetic field and electric currents near Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on our everyday lives. Although we know that the magnetic field originates from several sources, exactly how it is generated and why it changes is not yet fully understood. ESA’s Swarm mission will help untangle the complexities of the field. ESA/ATG Medialab

The magnetic north and south poles wander about all the time, and every few hundred thousand years the poles flip around, so that a compass would point south instead of north.
Additionally, the strength of the geomagnetic field has decreased by 10–15 percent since ground measurements began around 1840, researchers say.
The lower pair will fly in formation side by side, about 150 km (10 seconds) apart at the equator and at an initial altitude of 460 km, while the upper satellite will rise to a higher orbit, at 530 km.
Contact was established with the trio minutes later through the Kiruna station in Sweden and the Svalbard station in Norway.
For four years, the Swarm will monitor Earth’s magnetic field, from the depth of our planet’s core to the heights of its upper atmosphere.

Artist's view of Swarm on a Rockot. Swarm is ESA's first Earth observation constellation of satellites. ESA/ATG Medialab

Their measurements will evaluate its current weakening and understand how it contributes to global change.
The Swarm satellites will give us unprecedented insights into the complex workings of the magnetic shield that protects our biosphere from charged particles and cosmic radiation.
“Swarm is about to fill a gap in our view of the Earth system and in our monitoring of global change issues,” noted Volker Liebig, ESA’s director for Earth observation. “It will help us to better understand the field that protects us from the particles and radiation coming from the Sun.”

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