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  • richardmitnick 10:41 pm on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA Just Discovered a Second Magnetic Field Surrounding Our Planet, ESA SWARM   

    From ESA via Science Alert: “ESA Just Discovered a Second Magnetic Field Surrounding Our Planet” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    Science Alert

    1
    ESA

    11 APR 2018
    MIKE MCRAE

    How are we only seeing this now?

    A trio of satellites studying out planet’s magnetic field have shown details of the steady swell of a magnetic field produced by the ocean’s tides.

    Four years of data collected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm mission have contributed to the mapping of this ‘other’ magnetic field, one that could help us build better models around global warming.

    ESA/Swarm

    Physicist Nils Olsen from the Technical University of Denmark presented the surprising results at this year’s European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, explaining how his team of researchers managed to detail such a faint signature.

    “It’s a really tiny magnetic field,” Olsen told BBC correspondent Jonathan Amos.

    “It’s about 2 – 2.5 nanotesla at satellite altitude, which is about 20,000 times weaker than Earth’s global magnetic field.”

    On a fundamental level, both fields are the result of a dynamo effect produced by charged particles being sloshed around in a fluid.

    The stronger magnetic field that tugs on our compass needle forms from the steady movement of molten rock deep under our feet.

    This field also leaves its signature in the alignment of particles embedded in Earth’s crust, a pattern that has also been analysed in detail by Swarm.

    In fact, the ESA also released the most detailed map to date of this mottled magnetic imprint at the meeting. Take a look at this stunning image below:

    1

    But it was details of the ‘other’ dynamo that astonished the meeting’s audience.

    Ions dissolved in our oceans’ waters also produce an incredibly weak field as they move about in currents and tides.

    The faint patterns created by movements such as the Gulf Stream are difficult to tease apart from the bold background of the stronger magnetic field.

    But the ebb and flow of the tides as they’re pulled by the orbiting Moon produces a clear pulse, one that makes those weak signals stand out.

    Launched in 2013, Swarm consists of three identical satellites, currently orbiting between 300 (186 miles) and 530 kilometres (330 miles) overhead, tasked with collecting data on our planet’s magnetic properties.

    “We have used Swarm to measure the magnetic signals of tides from the ocean surface to the seabed, which gives us a truly global picture of how the ocean flows at all depths – and this is new,” says Olsen.

    Having multiple ways to study the movements of our ocean waters is serious business as we hone models describing the shifting patterns of heat energy around the globe.

    As water is capable of holding onto significant amounts of heat, predicting our planet’s ability to soak up excess warmth trapped by rising amounts of greenhouse gases relies on knowing precisely how tides and currents move in three dimensions.

    Knowing where all of that warm water is going deep, deep down could explain cycles of accelerating global warming.

    The new magnetic-ocean map also has another important application.

    “In addition, because this tidal magnetic signal also induces a weak magnetic response deep under the seabed, these results will be used to learn more about the electrical properties of Earth’s lithosphere and upper mantle,” says Olsen.

    Right now the moving magma swirling beneath the crust are studied using a mix of gravity measurements and seismology.

    Finding patterns in the push and pull between the two magnetic fields just might allow us to map these currents of molten minerals even better.

    Since there’s so much we still don’t know about how our planet’s magnetism – such as why it happens to flip over every now and then – every new discovery might make a difference.

    The team’s results were presented at the 2018 European Geosciences Union meeting.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:10 am on February 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Canada’s Cassiope satellite a.k.a. Echo, , ESA SWARM,   

    From ESA: “Swarm trio becomes a quartet” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    22 February 2018

    With the aim of making the best possible use of existing satellites, ESA and Canada have made a deal that turns Swarm into a four-satellite mission to shed even more light on space weather and features such as the aurora borealis.

    ESA/Swarm

    In orbit since 2013, ESA’s three identical Swarm satellites have been returning a wealth of information about how our magnetic field is generated and how it protects us from dangerous electrically charged atomic particles in the solar wind.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase

    Canada’s Cassiope satellite carries three instrument packages, one of which is e-POP.

    1
    Canada’s Cassiope satellite carries three instrument packages, one of which is e-POP
    Cassiope carries e-POP
    Released 22/02/2018
    Copyright © Canadian Space Agency, 2018
    Canada’s Cassiope satellite carries e-POP, which consists of eight instruments to provide information on Earth’s ionosphere, thermosphere and magnetosphere for a better understanding of space weather. Under a new agreement signed in February 2018, e-POP joins ESA’s magnetic field Swarm mission as a fourth element.

    It delivers information on space weather which complements that provided by Swarm. Therefore, the mission teams began looking into how they could work together to make the most of the two missions.

    To make life easier, it also just so happens that Cassiope’s orbit is ideal to improve Swarm’s readings.

    And now, thanks to this international cooperation and formalised through ESA’s Third Party Mission programme, e-POP has effectively become a fourth element of the Swarm mission. It joins Swarm’s Alpha, Bravo and Charlie satellites as Echo.

    Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, noted, “This is a textbook example of how virtual constellations and collaborative initiatives can be realised, even deep into the missions’ exploitation phases.

    “We embrace the opportunity to include e-POP in the Swarm mission, especially because it is clear that the more data we get, the better the picture we have of complex space weather dynamics.

    “ESA is looking forward to seeing the fruits of this collaboration and the improved return on investment for both Europe and Canada.”

    Andrew Yau from the University of Calgary added, “Swarm and e-POP have several unique measurement capabilities that are highly complementary.

    “By integrating e-POP into the Swarm constellation, the international scientific community will be able to pursue a host of new scientific investigations into magnetosphere–ionosphere coupling, including Earth’s magnetic field and related current systems, upper-atmospheric dynamics and aurora dynamics.”

    John Manuel from the Canadian Space Agency noted, “We are pleased to see e-POP join ESA’s three Swarm satellites in their quest to unravel the mysteries of Earth’s magnetic field.

    “Together, they will further improve our understanding of Earth’s magnetic field and role it plays in shielding Canada and the world from the effects of space weather.”

    Giuseppe Ottavianelli, Third-Party Mission Manager at ESA concluded, “I am pleased that the e-POP ensemble is now formally integrated into our Swarm constellation.

    “This milestone achievement confirms the essential role of ESA’s Earthnet programme, enabling synergies across missions, fostering international cooperation, and supporting data access.”

    While e-POP changes its name to Echo as part of the Swarm mission, it will also continue to provide information for its original science investigations.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:17 am on February 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA SWARM,   

    From ESA: “Swarm details energetic coupling” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    15 February 2018

    ESA/Swarm

    The Sun bathes our planet in the light and heat it needs to sustain life, but it also bombards us with dangerous charged particles in solar wind. Our magnetic field largely shields from this onslaught, but like many a relationship, it’s somewhat complicated. Thanks to ESA’s Swarm mission the nature of this Earth–Sun coupling has been revealed in more detail than ever before.

    Earth’s magnetic field is like a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles carried by powerful winds that escape the Sun’s gravitational pull and sweep across the Solar System.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase

    The trio of Swarm satellites were launched in 2013 to improve our understanding of how the field is generated and how it protects us from this barrage of charged particles.

    Since our magnetic field is generated mainly by an ocean of liquid iron that makes up the planet’s outer core, it resembles a bar magnet with field lines emerging from near the poles.

    The field is highly conductive and carries charged particles that flow along these field lines, giving rise to field-aligned currents.

    Carrying up to 1 TW of electrical power – about six times the amount of energy produced every year by wind turbines in Europe – these currents are the dominant form of energy transfer between the magnetosphere and ionosphere.

    The shimmering green and purple light displays of the auroras in the skies above the polar regions are a visible manifestation of energy and particles travelling along magnetic field lines.

    3
    Aurora borealis
    Released 21/04/2017
    Copyright Sherwin Calaluan
    The aurora borealis is a visible display of electrically charged atomic particles from the Sun interacting with Earth’s magnetic field.

    The theory about the exchange and momentum between solar wind and our magnetic field actually goes back more than 100 years, and more recently the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment satellite network has allowed scientists to study large-scale field-aligned currents.

    However, the Swarm mission is leading to exciting new wave of discoveries. A new paper [Journal of Geophysical Research] explores the dynamics of this energetic coupling across different spatial scales – and finds that it’s all in the detail.

    Ryan McGranaghan from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “We have a good understanding of how these currents exchange energy between the ionosphere and the magnetosphere at large scales so we assumed that smaller-scale currents behaved in the same way, but carried proportionally less energy.”

    “Swarm has allowed us to effectively zoom in on these smaller currents and we see that, under certain conditions, this is not the case.

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________
    4
    Solar corona viewed by Proba-2
    Released 16/03/2015
    Copyright ESA/ROB
    This snapshot of our constantly changing Sun catches looping filaments and energetic eruptions on their outward journey from our star’s turbulent surface.

    The disc of our star is a rippling mass of bright, hot active areas, interspersed with dark, cool snaking filaments that wrap around the star. Surrounding the tumultuous solar surface is the chaotic corona, a rarified atmosphere of super-heated plasma that blankets the Sun and extends out into space for millions of kilometres.

    This coronal plasma reaches temperatures of several million degrees in some regions – significantly hotter than the surface of the Sun, which reaches comparatively paltry temperatures of around 6000ºC – and glows in ultraviolet and extreme-ultraviolet light owing to its extremely high temperature. By picking one particular wavelength, ESA’s Proba-2 SWAP (Sun Watcher with APS detector and Image Processing) camera is able to single out structures with temperatures of around a million degrees.

    ESA Proba 2

    As seen in the above image, taken on 25 July 2014, the hot plasma forms large loops and fan-shaped structures, both of which are kept in check by the Sun’s intense magnetic field. While some of these loops stay close to the surface of the Sun, some can stretch far out into space, eventually being swept up into the solar wind – an outpouring of energetic particles that constantly streams out into the Solar System and flows past the planets, including Earth.

    Even loops that initially appear to be quite docile can become tightly wrapped and tangled over time, storing energy until they eventually snap and throw off intense flares and eruptions known as coronal mass ejections. These eruptions, made up of massive amounts of gas embedded in magnetic field lines, can be dangerous to satellites, interfere with communication equipment and damage vital infrastructure on Earth.

    Despite the Sun being the most important star in our sky, much is still unknown about its behaviour. Studying its corona in detail could help us to understand the internal workings of the Sun, the erratic motions of its outer layers, and the highly energetic bursts of material that it throws off into space.

    Two new ESA missions will soon contribute to this field of study: Solar Orbiter is designed to study the solar wind and region of space dominated by the Sun and also to closely observe the star’s polar regions, and the Proba-3 mission will study the Sun’s faint corona closer to the solar rim than has ever before been achieved.

    NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter

    ESA Proba 3

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    “Our findings show that these smaller currents carry significant energy and that their relationship with the larger currents is very complex. Moreover, large and small currents affect the magnetosphere–ionosphere differently.”

    Colin Forsyth from University College London noted, “Since electric currents around Earth can interfere with navigation and telecommunication systems, this is an important discovery.

    “It also gives us a greater understanding of how the Sun and Earth are linked and how this coupling can ultimately add energy to our atmosphere.

    “This new knowledge can be used to improve models so that we can better understand, and therefore, ultimately, prepare for the potential consequences of solar storms.”

    ESA’s Swarm mission manager, Rune Floberghagen, added, “Since the beginning of the mission we have carried out projects to address the energy exchange between the magnetosphere, ionosphere and the thermosphere.

    “But what we are witnessing now is nothing short of a complete overhaul of the understanding of how Earth responds to and interacts with output from the Sun.

    “In fact, this scientific investigation is becoming a fundamental pillar for the extended Swarm mission, precisely because it is breaking new ground and at the same time has strong societal relevance. We now wish to explore this potential of Swarm to the fullest.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:08 am on April 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Steve", , Aurora borealis, Aurorasaurus website, , Citizen scientists, , ESA SWARM   

    From ESA: “When Swarm met Steve” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    21 April 2017

    1
    Meet Steve
    Released: 21/04/2017
    Copyright: Dave Markel Photography
    Thanks to scientists, citizen scientists, ground-based imagers and ESA’s magnetic field Swarm mission, this purple streak of light in the night sky has been discovered. Originally thought to be a ‘proton arc’, this strange feature has been called Steve. While there is still a lot to learn about Steve, the electric field instrument carried on the Swarm mission has measured it. Flying through Steve, the temperature 300 km above Earth’s surface jumped by 3000°C and the data revealed a 25 km-wide ribbon of gas flowing westward at about 6 km/s compared to a speed of about 10 m/s either side of the ribbon.

    Thanks to social media and the power of citizen scientists chasing the northern lights, a new feature was discovered recently. Nobody knew what this strange ribbon of purple light was, so … it was called Steve.

    ESA’s Swarm magnetic field mission has now also met Steve and is helping to understand the nature of this new-found feature.

    ESA/Swarm

    2
    Swarm
    Released 23/03/2012
    Copyright ESA/AOES Medialab
    Swarm is ESA’s first constellation of Earth observation satellites designed to measure the magnetic signals from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere, providing data that will allow scientists to study the complexities of our protective magnetic field.

    Speaking at the recent Swarm science meeting in Canada, Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary explained how this new finding couldn’t have happened 20 years ago when he started to study the aurora.

    While the shimmering, eerie, light display of auroras might be beautiful and captivating, they are also a visual reminder that Earth is connected electrically to the Sun. A better understanding of the aurora helps to understand more about the relationship between Earth’s magnetic field and the charged atomic particles streaming from the Sun as the solar wind.

    “In 1997 we had just one all-sky imager in North America to observe the aurora borealis from the ground,” said Prof. Donovan.

    “Back then we would be lucky if we got one photograph a night of the aurora taken from the ground that coincides with an observation from a satellite. Now we have many more all-sky imagers and satellite missions like Swarm so we get more than 100 a night.”

    And now, social media and citizen scientists also have an increasingly important role.

    For instance, the Aurorasaurus website makes it possible for a large number of people to communicate about the aurora borealis. It connects citizen scientists to scientists and trawls Twitter feeds for instances of the word ‘aurora’. In doing so, it does an excellent job of forecasting where the aurora oval will be.

    At a recent talk, Prof. Donovan met members of another social media group on Facebook: the Alberta Aurora Chasers. The group attracts members of the general public who are interested in the night sky and includes some talented photographers.

    Looking at their photographs, Prof. Donovan came across something he hadn’t seen before. The group called this strange purple streak of light in the night sky captured in their photographs a ‘proton arc’ but for a number of reasons, including the fact that proton aurora are never visible, he knew this had to be something else.

    4
    Aurora borealis
    Released 21/04/2017
    Copyright Sherwin Calaluan
    The aurora borealis is a visible display of electrically charged atomic particles from the Sun interacting with Earth’s magnetic field.

    However, nobody knew what it actually was so they decided to put a name to this mystery feature: they called it Steve.

    While the Aurora Chasers combed through their photos and kept an eye out for the next appearances of Steve, Prof. Donovan and colleagues turned to data from the Swarm mission and his network of all-sky cameras.

    Soon he was able to match a ground sighting of Steve to an overpass of one of the three Swarm satellites.

    Prof. Donovan said, “As the satellite flew straight though Steve, data from the electric field instrument showed very clear changes.

    “The temperature 300 km above Earth’s surface jumped by 3000°C and the data revealed a 25 km-wide ribbon of gas flowing westwards at about 6 km/s compared to a speed of about 10 m/s either side of the ribbon.

    “It turns out that Steve is actually remarkably common, but we hadn’t noticed it before. It’s thanks to ground-based observations, satellites, today’s explosion of access to data and an army of citizen scientists joining forces to document it.

    “Swarm allows us to measure it and I’m sure will continue to help resolve some unanswered questions.”

    ESA’s Swarm mission scientist, Roger Haagmans, added, “It is amazing how a beautiful natural phenomenon, seen by observant citizens, can trigger scientists’ curiosity.

    “The ground network and the electric and magnetic field measurements made by Swarm are great tools that can be used to better understand Steve. This is a nice example of society for science.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:01 am on March 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Birkeland currents, , ESA SWARM, Our atmosphere, U Calgary   

    From ESA: Supersonic Plasma Jets Discovered 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    23 March 2017
    No writer credit

    Information from ESA’s magnetic field Swarm mission has led to the discovery of supersonic plasma jets high up in our atmosphere that can push temperatures up to almost 10 000°C.

    Presenting these findings at this week’s Swarm Science Meeting in Canada, scientists from the University of Calgary explained how they used measurements from the trio of Swarm satellites to build on what was known about vast sheets of electric current in the upper atmosphere.

    The theory that there are huge electric currents, powered by solar wind and guided through the ionosphere by Earth’s magnetic field, was postulated more than a century ago by Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland.

    1
    Birkeland currents
    Released 23/03/2017 10:19 am
    Copyright University of Calgary/ESA
    Description

    ESA’s Swarm has been used to improve our understanding about vast sheets of electric current in the upper atmosphere. Birkeland currents carry up to 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere – about 30 times the energy consumed in New York during a heatwave. They are also responsible for ‘aurora arcs’, the familiar, slow-moving green curtains of light that can extend from horizon to horizon.
    Recent observations by Swarm have revealed that they are associated with large electrical fields and occur where upwards and downwards Birkeland currents connect through the ionosphere. Scientists have also discovered that these strong electric fields drive supersonic plasma jets.

    2
    Upward and downward current sheets
    Released 23/03/2017 10:10 am
    Copyright University of Calgary/ESA
    Description
    Birkeland currents carry up to 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere – about 30 times the energy consumed in New York during a heatwave. They are also responsible for ‘aurora arcs’, the familiar, slow-moving green curtains of light that can extend from horizon to horizon. Recent observations by Swarm have revealed that they are associated with large electrical fields and occur where upwards and downwards Birkeland currents connect through the ionosphere. Scientists have also discovered that these strong electric fields drive supersonic plasma jets.

    It wasn’t until the 1970s, after the advent of satellites, however, that these ‘Birkeland currents’ were confirmed by direct measurements in space. These currents carry up to 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere – about 30 times the energy consumed in New York during a heatwave. They are also responsible for ‘aurora arcs’, the familiar, slow-moving green curtains of light that can extend from horizon to horizon. While much is known about these current systems, recent observations by Swarm have revealed that they are associated with large electrical fields.

    These fields, which are strongest in the winter, occur where upwards and downwards Birkeland currents connect through the ionosphere.

    Bill Archer from the University of Calgary explained, “Using data from the Swarm satellites’ electric field instruments, we discovered that these strong electric fields drive supersonic plasma jets.

    “The jets, which we call ‘Birkeland current boundary flows’, mark distinctly the boundary between current sheets moving in opposite direction and lead to extreme conditions in the upper atmosphere.

    “They can drive the ionosphere to temperatures approaching 10 000°C and change its chemical composition. They also cause the ionosphere to flow upwards to higher altitudes where additional energisation can lead to loss of atmospheric material to space.”

    4
    Magnetic field sources
    Released 31/10/2012 4:35 pm
    Copyright ESA/DTU Space
    The different sources that contribute to the magnetic field measured by Swarm. The coupling currents or field-aligned currents flow along magnetic field lines between the magnetosphere and ionosphere.

    David Knudsen, also from the University of Calgary, added, “These recent findings from Swarm add knowledge of electric potential, and therefore voltage, to our understanding of the Birkeland current circuit, perhaps the most widely recognised organising feature of the coupled magnetosphere–ionosphere system.”

    This discovery is just one of the new findings presented at the week-long science meeting dedicated to the Swarm mission. Also presented this week and focusing on Birkeland currents, for example, Swarm was used to confirm that these currents are stronger in the northern hemisphere and vary with the season.

    Since they were launched in 2013, the identical Swarm satellites have been measuring and untangling the different magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere.

    5
    Front of Swarm satellite
    Released 04/02/2014 5:07 pm
    Copyright ESA/ATG medialab
    Swarm is ESA’s first Earth observation constellation of satellites. The trio of identical satellites are designed to identify and measure precisely the different magnetic signals that make up Earth’s magnetic field. The electrical field instrument, positioned at the front of each satellite, measures plasma density, drift and acceleration in high resolution to characterise the electric field around Earth.

    As well as a package of instruments to do this, each satellite has an electric field instrument positioned at the front to measure plasma density, drift and velocity.

    Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, said, “The electric field instrument is the first ionospheric imager in orbit so it’s very exciting to see such fantastic results that are thanks to this new instrument.

    “The dedication of scientists working with data from the mission never ceases to amaze me and we are seeing some brilliant results, such as this, discussed at this week’s meeting.

    “Swarm is really opening our eyes to the workings of the planet from deep down in Earth’s core to the highest part of our atmosphere.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:49 am on March 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , ESA SWARM, Swarm detects asymmetry   

    From ESA: “Swarm detects asymmetry” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    22 March 2017

    1
    Title Swarm
    Released 23/03/2012 1:18 pm
    Copyright ESA/AOES Medialab
    Swarm is ESA’s first constellation of Earth observation satellites designed to measure the magnetic signals from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere, providing data that will allow scientists to study the complexities of our protective magnetic field.

    Strong electric currents in the upper atmosphere are known to vary according to the season, but ESA’s Swarm mission has discovered that this seasonal variation is not the same in the north and south polar regions.

    Named after Kristian Birkeland, the scientist a century ago who first postulated that the ‘northern lights’ were linked to electrically charged particles in the solar wind, these currents flow along Earth’s magnetic field lines in the polar regions.

    Magnetic field measurements from ESA’s Swarm satellite constellation are allowing scientists to understand more about these powerful currents, which carry up to 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere. This is about 30 times the energy consumed in New York during a heatwave.

    2
    Title Seasonal asymmetry
    Released 22/03/2017 10:24 am
    Copyright DTU/BCSS
    Three years of measurements from ESA’s Swarm mission have be combined with measurements from Germany’s earlier Champ satellite to produce global climatological maps of Birkeland currents. These currents tend to be weak for a northwards interplanetary field and strong for a southwards field. Importantly, these new results also reveal that the strength of the currents is not the same in both hemispheres. These hemispheric differences may relate to asymmetry in Earth’s main magnetic field.

    It is important to understand the interplay between these Birkeland currents and the solar wind that bombards our planet and that can potentially cause power and communication blackouts.

    New findings, presented this week at the Swarm science meeting in Canada, show how three years of measurements from the mission were combined with measurements from Germany’s earlier Champ satellite to produce global climatological maps of these currents.

    3
    Title Earth’s protective shield
    Released 06/02/2014 2:09 pm
    Copyright ESA/ATG medialab
    The magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on every day life. The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard Earth in solar winds.

    Moreover, these results show differences between currents in the northern and southern hemisphere, how they change with the season and how they vary according to the strength of the solar wind.

    Karl Laundal, from the Birkeland Centre for Space Science, explained, “Interaction between Earth’s magnetic field and the interplanetary magnetic field – meaning part of the Sun’s magnetic field carried by solar wind – depends on how the interplanetary field is orientated.

    “While this sounds complicated, it means that hardly any solar wind can enter the magnetosphere and arrive at Earth if the interplanetary magnetic field points north, parallel to Earth’s magnetic field.

    “On the other hand, if the interplanetary field points south, the opposite is true and this allows a connection to be made with Earth’s magnetic field.

    “Part of the energy in solar wind then further energises the charged particles that are responsible for the visible light displays of the auroras.”

    Birkeland currents therefore tend to be weak for a northwards interplanetary field and strong for a southwards field.

    Importantly, these new results also reveal that the strength of the currents is not the same in both hemispheres. These hemispheric differences may relate to asymmetry in Earth’s main magnetic field.

    In fact, the two geomagnetic poles are not geometrically opposite to one another, and the magnetic field intensity is also not the same in the north as in the south.

    Dr Laundal said, “The main reason for this probably has to do with differences in Earth’s main field. Such differences imply that the ionosphere–magnetosphere coupling is different in the two hemispheres.

    “In particular, the magnetic pole is more offset with respect to the geographic pole in the south compared to north, which leads to different variations in sunlight in the ‘magnetic hemispheres’. Because of these differences, the two hemispheres do not respond symmetrically to solar wind driving or changing seasons.

    “Swarm is a fantastic tool for space science studies. The high-quality measurements and the fact that there are three satellites working in concert hold many new clues about how our home planet interacts with the space around it. It’s a fascinating time.”

    4

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:19 am on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHAMP Lithosphere, ESA SWARM, ,   

    From ESA: “Unravelling Earth’s magnetic field” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    21 March 2017

    ESA’s Swarm satellites are seeing fine details in one of the most difficult layers of Earth’s magnetic field to unpick – as well as our planet’s magnetic history imprinted on Earth’s crust.


    ESA/Swarm

    Earth’s magnetic field can be thought of as a huge cocoon, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard our planet in solar wind. Without it, life as we know it would not exist.


    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase

    Most of the field is generated at depths greater than 3000 km by the movement of molten iron in the outer core. The remaining 6% is partly due to electrical currents in space surrounding Earth, and partly due to magnetised rocks in the upper lithosphere – the rigid outer part of Earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle.

    Although this ‘lithospheric magnetic field’ is very weak and therefore difficult to detect from space, the Swarm trio is able to map its magnetic signals. After three years of collecting data, the highest resolution map of this field from space to date has been released.

    2

    “By combining Swarm measurements with historical data from the German CHAMP satellite, and using a new modelling technique, it was possible to extract the tiny magnetic signals of crustal magnetisation,” explained Nils Olsen from the Technical University of Denmark, one of the scientists behind the new map.

    3
    Lithosphere From CHAMP. http://geomag.org/info/lithosphere.html

    ESA’s Swarm mission manager, Rune Floberghagen, added: “Understanding the crust of our home planet is no easy feat. We can’t simply drill through it to measure its structure, composition and history.

    “Measurements from space have great value as they offer a sharp global view on the magnetic structure of our planet’s rigid outer shell.”

    Presented at this week’s Swarm Science Meeting in Canada, the new map shows detailed variations in this field more precisely than previous satellite-based reconstructions, caused by geological structures in Earth’s crust.

    One of these anomalies occurs in Central African Republic, centred around the city of Bangui, where the magnetic field is significantly sharper and stronger. The cause for this anomaly is still unknown, but some scientists speculate that it may be the result of a meteorite impact more than 540 million years ago.

    The magnetic field is in a permanent 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.

    When new crust is generated through volcanic activity, mainly along the ocean floor, iron-rich minerals in the solidifying magma are oriented towards magnetic north, thus capturing a ‘snapshot’ of the magnetic field in the state it was in when the rocks cooled.

    Since magnetic poles flip back and forth over time, the solidified minerals form ‘stripes’ on the seafloor and provide a record of Earth’s magnetic history.

    The latest map from Swarm gives us an unprecedented global view of the magnetic stripes associated with plate tectonics reflected in the mid-oceanic ridges in the oceans.

    “These magnetic stripes are evidence of pole reversals and analysing the magnetic imprints of the ocean floor allows the reconstruction of past core field changes. They also help to investigate tectonic plate motions,” said Dhananjay Ravat from the University of Kentucky in the USA.

    “The new map defines magnetic field features down to about 250 km and will help investigate geology and temperatures in Earth’s lithosphere.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:44 pm on December 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A jet stream within the Earth’s molten iron core, , , ESA SWARM,   

    From Leeds: “Satellites help discover a jet stream in the Earth’s core” 

    U Leeds bloc

    University of Leeds

    19 December 2016
    No writer credit
    Contact
    Anna Martinez
    Media Relations Officer
    a.martinez@leeds.ac.uk
    +44 (0)113 343 4196

    1
    No image caption. N0 image credit

    A jet stream within the Earth’s molten iron core has been discovered by scientists using the latest satellite data that helps create an ‘x-ray’ view of the planet.

    Lead researcher Dr Phil Livermore, from the University of Leeds, said: “The European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites are providing our sharpest x-ray image yet of the core.

    ESA/Swarm
    ESA/Swarm

    We’ve not only seen this jet stream clearly for the first time, but we understand why it’s there.

    “We can explain it as an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole, like the jet stream in the atmosphere,” said Dr Livermore, from the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds.

    Because of the core’s remote location under 3,000 kilometres of rock, for many years scientists have studied the Earth’s core by measuring the planet’s magnetic field – one of the few options available.

    Previous research had found that changes in the magnetic field indicated that iron in the outer core was moving faster in the northern hemisphere, mostly under Alaska and Siberia.

    But new data from the Swarm satellites has revealed these changes are actually caused by a jet stream moving at more than 40 kilometres per year.

    This is three times faster than typical outer core speeds and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the speed at which the Earth’s tectonic plates move.

    The European Space Agency’s Swarm mission features a trio of satellites which simultaneously measure and untangle the different magnetic signals which stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere. They have provided the clearest information yet about the magnetic field created in the core.

    The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, found the position of the jet stream aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the core. The jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards this boundary from both sides, which is squeezed out sideways.

    Co-author Professor Rainer Hollerbach, from the School of Mathematics at Leeds, said: “Of course, you need a force to move the liquid towards the boundary. This could be provided by buoyancy, or perhaps more likely from changes in the magnetic field within the core.”

    Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, said: “Further surprises are likely. The magnetic field is forever changing, and this could even make the jet stream switch direction.

    “This feature is one of the first deep-Earth discoveries made possible by Swarm. With the unprecedented resolution now possible, it’s a very exciting time – we simply don’t know what we’ll discover next about our planet.”

    Co-author Dr Chris Finlay, from the Technical University of Denmark said: “We know more about the Sun than the Earth’s core. The discovery of this jet is an exciting step in learning more about our planet’s inner workings.”

    See the full article here.

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    U Leeds Campus

    The University, established in 1904, is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK. We are a world top 100 university and are renowned globally for the quality of our teaching and research. The strength of our academic expertise combined with the breadth of disciplines we cover, provides a wealth of opportunities and has real impact on the world in cultural, economic and societal ways. The University strives to achieve academic excellence within an ethical framework informed by our values of integrity, equality and inclusion, community and professionalism.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:52 am on May 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Earth’s magnetic heartbeat, ESA SWARM   

    From ESA: “Earth’s magnetic heartbeat” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    10 May 2016

    With more than two years of measurements by ESA’s Swarm satellite trio, changes in the strength of Earth’s magnetic field are being mapped in detail.

    ESA/Swarm

    Launched at the end of 2013, Swarm is measuring and untangling the different magnetic signals from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere – an undertaking that will take several years to complete.

    Although invisible, the magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable effects on our everyday lives.

    Magnetosphere of Earth
    Magnetosphere of Earth

    The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and electrically charged atomic particles that bombard Earth in solar winds. However, it is in a permanent state of flux.

    Presented at this week’s Living Planet Symposium, new results from the constellation of Swarm satellites show where our protective field is weakening and strengthening, and importantly how fast these changes are taking place.

    The animation above shows the strength of Earth’s magnetic field and how it changed between 1999 and May 2016.

    Blue depicts where the field is weak and red shows regions where it is strong. As well as recent data from the Swarm constellation, information from the CHAMP and Ørsted satellites were also used to create the map.

    It shows clearly that the field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has strengthened about 2% over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest – the South Atlantic Anomaly – has moved steadily westward and weakened further by about 2%.

    In addition, the magnetic north pole is wandering east, towards Asia.

    The second animation shows the rate of change in Earth’s magnetic field between 2000 and 2015. Regions where changes in the field slowed are shown in blue while red shows where changes speeded up.

    For example, changes in the field have slowed near South Africa, but have changed faster over Asia.

    The magnetic field is thought to be produced largely by an ocean of molten, swirling liquid iron that makes up our planet’s outer core, 3000 km under our feet. Acting like the spinning conductor in a bicycle dynamo, it generates electrical currents and thus the continuously changing electromagnetic field.

    It is thought that accelerations in field strength are related to changes in how this liquid iron flows and oscillates in the outer core.

    Chris Finlay, senior scientist at DTU Space in Denmark, said, “Swarm data are now enabling us to map detailed changes in Earth’s magnetic field, not just at Earth’s surface but also down at the edge of its source region in the core.

    “Unexpectedly, we are finding rapid localised field changes that seem to be a result of accelerations of liquid metal flowing within the core.”

    Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm mission manager, added, “Two and a half years after the mission was launched it is great to see that Swarm is mapping the magnetic field and its variations with phenomenal precision.

    “The quality of the data is truly excellent, and this paves the way for a profusion of scientific applications as the data continue to be exploited.”

    It is clear that ESA’s innovative Swarm mission is providing new insights into our changing magnetic field. Further results are expected to lead to new information on many natural processes, from those occurring deep inside the planet to weather in space caused by solar activity.

    In turn, this information will certainly yield a better understanding of why the magnetic field is weakening in some places, and globally.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:43 am on June 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ESA SWARM   

    From ESA: “Swarm Reveals Earth’s Changing Magnetism” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    19 June 2014
    No Writer Credit

    The first set of high-resolution results from ESA’s three-satellite Swarm constellation reveals the most recent changes in the magnetic field that protects our planet.

    swarm
    ESA/SWARM

    change
    June 2014 magnetic field

    Launched in November 2013, Swarm is providing unprecedented insights into the complex workings of Earth’s magnetic field, which safeguards us from the bombarding cosmic radiation and charged particles.

    Measurements made over the past six months confirm the general trend of the field’s weakening, with the most dramatic declines over the Western Hemisphere.

    But in other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean, the magnetic field has strengthened since January.

    The latest measurements also confirm the movement of magnetic North towards Siberia.

    These changes are based on the magnetic signals stemming from Earth’s core. Over the coming months, scientists will analyse the data to unravel the magnetic contributions from other sources, namely the mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere.

    This will provide new insight into many natural processes, from those occurring deep inside our planet to space weather triggered by solar activity. In turn, this information will yield a better understanding of why the magnetic field is weakening.

    mag
    Earth’s magnetic field

    “These initial results demonstrate the excellent performance of Swarm,” said Rune Floberghagen, ESA’s Swarm Mission Manager.

    “With unprecedented resolution, the data also exhibit Swarm’s capability to map fine-scale features of the magnetic field.”

    The first results were presented today at the ‘Third Swarm Science Meeting’ in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    Sofie Carsten Nielsen, Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science, highlighted the Danish contribution to the mission. Swarm continues the legacy of the Danish Ørsted satellite, which is still operational, as well as the German Champ mission. Swarm’s core instrument – the Vector Field Magnetometer – was provided by the Technical University of Denmark.

    vfm

    sward2
    Swarm

    Denmark’s National Space Institute, DTU Space, has a leading role – together with 10 European and Canadian research institutes – in the Swarm Satellite Constellation Application and Research Facility, which produces advanced models based on Swarm data describing each of the various sources of the measured field.

    “I’m extremely happy to see that Swarm has materialised,” said Kristian Pedersen, Director of DTU Space.

    See the full article here.

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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