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