image credits: ESA/ATG Medialab

The first set of high-resolution results from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) constellation , Swarm, shows changes in earth’s magnetic field. After six months of measurements by Swarm a general trend of the field’s weakening especially in the Western Hemisphere and a strengthened magnetic field in the southern Indian Ocean was revealed as well as movement of magnetic North towards Siberia. These changes are based on the magnetic signals stemming from Earth’s core. Scientists also plan to analyze the data to study the magnetic contributions from other sources such as oceans, magnetosphere etc. in an effort to further understand Earth’s magnetic field, which safeguards our biosphere from cosmic radiation and charged particles.

Swarm is a three satellite constellation launched in November 2013, controlled by the ESA’s teams at the European Space Operation Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Along with ESA and Denmark’s National Space Institute (DTU Space), 10 more European and Canadian research institutes collaborate in the Swarm Satellite Constellation Application and Research Facility to produce advanced models based on Swarm data describing each of the various sources of Earth’s magnetic field aiming to untangle its complexities.

Snapshot’ of the main magnetic field at Earth’s surface as of June 2014 based on Swarm data(copyright: ESA/DTU Space)

Snapshot’ of the main magnetic field at Earth’s surface as of June 2014 based on Swarm data. The measurements are dominated by the magnetic contribution from Earth’s core (about 95%) while the contributions from other sources (the mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere) make up the rest.(copyright: ESA/DTU Space)