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ESA's Swarm Earth Explorer constellation readied for November launch!

The European Space Agency (ESA) magnetic field mission Swarm is being prepared for a November launch from Plesetsk cosmodrome. The Swarm mission comprises a three satellite constellation, and is unique within ESA’s growing in orbit fleet of Earth Explorer missions (GOCE, SMOS and CryoSat satellites presently in operation).

Earth’s magnetosphere is an invisible shield, protecting our planet from harmful solar radiation. Many living organisms – from bacteria to insects or birds – seem to rely on Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. Yet fundamentally we still know remarkably little about the processes which contribute to the observed field and its variability in time and space.

Humans have been navigating for a thousand years since the invention of the compass. But current research shows the magnetic field is weakening and scientists are trying to understand why. Some believe it signals a pole reversal in progress, not an uncommon phenomenon in the history of our planet.

As ground observatories fail to grasp the whole picture, we are sending magnetometers into orbit to try to measure the magnitude and the direction of the magnetic field.

Find out more about Swarm here

and about the Plesetsk launch preparations at the day-to-day weblog here

ESA Euronews: Measuring Earth’s vital magnetic field#!

post by Mark Drinkwater, Head, Mission Science Division at European Space Agency at LinkedIn