Friday, November 22, 2013

Satellite launch to the magnetic field inventory - Spiegel Online

Darmstadt / Plesetsk – Europe has sent into space on Friday three new satellites. The trio of mission “Swarm” to observe the vital Earth’s magnetic field, which has become weaker. The European Space Agency ESA shot the satellite from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on board from the Rockot rocket into the skies. The launch went smoothly in foggy weather. The satellites are controlled in Esa-control center in Darmstadt.

Of the three “Swarm” satellite, the researchers hope answers to a number of outstanding issues still to Earth’s magnetic field. It is known that it is produced mainly by the Earth’s rotation – and that it is constantly changing. It is also known that it protects our planet from bombardment by charged particles in solar storms. “Without magnetic field as a shield, we would have long contaminated,” said Esa-flight manager Frank-Jürgen Diekmann in Darmstadt.

Cosmic shield is weaker

Nevertheless massively impair particularly violent streams of particles from the sun of our everyday life. After all, severe solar storms have already caused power outages on Earth, even communications satellites and navigation systems can be paralyzed by clouds of particles ejected from the sun.

Against this background, it does not just appear reassuring that the strength of our protective shield fluctuates constantly – especially since some time also mark a significant weakening of the magnetic field can be seen as the Esa reported. These changes are the three identical “Swarm” satellite now explore in detail.

By analyzing the properties of our magnetic field, the ESA mission could help researchers to far-reaching new insights – about the natural processes deep in the onion-shaped built-up earth, possible connections with global climate change and space weather, which determined by the solar activity will. This information, in turn, could help in the search for the causes of the current magnetic field weakening.

four years to discover the secrets of our cosmic shield the “Swarm” satellite. To this end, the trio will circle Earth in swarm formation and collect data – two probes in 460 kilometers, third in 530 km altitude. Each probe is equipped with five instruments, including a vector field magnetometer for precise measurement of the magnetic field direction.

their observations of the geomagnetic field, the “Swarm” mission is “cluster” can access the data of the started in 2000 and still ongoing ESA science mission. The four “cluster” Satellite explore the conditions within the Earth’s magnetosphere and its interaction with the charged particles of the solar wind. You are at 10,000 kilometers from the earth – and so can the “Swarm” satellites on their orbits provide additional measurements


In addition to their scientific importance should the new ESA mission also be of practical use. Thus, the measurement data of “Swarm” could help to increase the accuracy of navigation systems. The earthquake prediction could be improved.


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