The ESA’s trio of magnetic field mapping satellites have returned an image of an ever changing magnetic field.
The three satellites were launched in September of 2013 and are the first mission to really try to understand how the Earth’s magnetic field works.
The swarm covers the Earth in slightly odd orbits. Two of the satellites parallel each other and one, in a higher orbit, crosses the others at a 90 degree angle.
We know that the Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the various radiation bombardments of the Sun and space in general. But we don’t really know that much about it. We know that about every 450,000 the magnetic poles flip and the north and south magnetic poles change.
The static image above is a composite of the findings. However, you can watch an animation of the changes that the satellites have observed here. It is much more telling of how much the magnetic field actually does change.
It will be interesting to see more discoveries from the swarm as time goes by. The data could help predict weather patterns, solar storm patterns and a host of other phenomena related to the magnetosphere.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +