Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

ESA Swarm magnetic mission factsheet November 2013


Published on

Earth’s magnetic field acts as a shield, protecting the planet from charged particles that stream towards us in solar winds. Without this protective shield, the atmosphere as we know it would not exist, rendering life on Earth virtually impossible.

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

ESA Swarm magnetic mission factsheet November 2013

  1. 1. Driven by science The force that protects our planet ESA’s Earth Explorer missions are developed in direct response to priorities identified by the scientific community. Carrying novel technologies, each satellite in the series is developed to improve our understanding of how the planet works as a system and the impact that human activity is having on natural Earth processes. Earth’s magnetic field acts as a shield, protecting the planet from charged particles that stream towards us in solar winds. Without this protective shield, the atmosphere as we know it would not exist, rendering life on Earth virtually impossible. The magnetic field is generated mainly deep inside the planet by a huge ocean of swirling iron that makes up the liquid outer core. Driven by currents churning in the outer core, the electrically charged molten iron acts like a bicycle dynamo, generating our continuously changing electromagnetic field. Other sources of magnetism come from rocks in Earth’s crust, electric currents flowing in the ionosphere, magnetosphere and oceans. By identifying and measuring precisely the magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere, the Swarm mission will help unravel the complexities of our protective magnetic shield. This will lead to a better insight into processes occurring inside the planet. In addition, Swarm will lead to a clearer understanding of the near-Earth electromagnetic environment and the influence solar wind has on Earth. The first Earth Explorer constellation Swarm is ESA’s first satellite constellation for Earth observation. The three identical satellites are launched together on one rocket. Two satellites orbit almost side-by-side at the same altitude – initially at about 460 km, descending to around 300 km over the lifetime of the mission. The third satellite is in a higher orbit of 530 km and at a slightly different inclination. The satellites’ orbits drift, resulting in the upper satellite crossing the path of the lower two at an angle of 90° in the third year of operations. The different orbits along with satellites’ various instruments optimise the sampling in space and time, distinguishing between the effects of different sources and strengths of magnetism. This complex force is in a constant state of flux. Magnetic north wanders and every few hundred thousand years the polarity flips so that a compass would point south instead of north. Moreover, the strength of the magnetic field changes all the time – and is currently showing signs of significant weakening. A new generation of sensors Exploiting European and Canadian technological excellence, Swarm takes advantage of a new generation of sensors. The magnetometers measure the magnetic field to an accuracy greater than other instruments while the electric field sensors are the first 3D ionospheric imagers of their kind in orbit.
  2. 2. Facts and figures • Launch: November 2013 • rbit: Two satellites orbit side-by-side decaying naturally from an initial altitude of 460 km O to 300 km, while the third orbits at about 530 km • Mission life: Four years (plus three-month commissioning phase) • atellites: Each satellite weighs 473 kg at launch (including 106 kg of Freon propellant) S and is 9.1 m long (including a 4-m deployable boom), 1.5 m wide and 0.85 m high © ESA/AOES Medialab • onstellation: Three identical satellites launched together on a Rockot (with Breeze-KM C upper stage) provided by Eurockot Launch Services GmbH from Plesetsk, Russia For further information • nstruments: Vector field magnetometer, absolute scalar magnetometer, electric field I instrument, accelerometer, GPS receiver, startrackers and laser retroreflector ESA Media Relations Office • Power: GaAs solar cells, 48 Ah Li-ion batteries • ission control: ESA’s European Satellite Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, DE, via M ESA’s ground station in Kiruna, SE Tel: +33 1 5369 7299 • roject and commissioning: Managed at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology P Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, NL The magnetic field generated by Earth’s lithosphere. The blue colours depict a weaker field and the red colours represent a stronger signal. The features running north-south in the Atlantic show variations in strength as a consequence of sea-floor spreading. © Cires–S. Maus/ESA–C. Siemes © ESA 2013 | Last updated November 2013 • cience data: downloaded to Kiruna ground station. Data processing, distribution and S archiving managed by ESA’s Centre for Earth Observation ESRIN in Frascati, IT