Space Science Seminar: Exploring the Earth's Magnetic Field Using Satellites - From Ørsted to Swarm

Prof. Nils Olsen, Head of Geomagnetism, DTU Space, Technical University of Denmark

Wednesday 14 May 2014, 1400-1500
Frankland Colloquium Room

ESA's Swarm mission ESA's Swarm mission

The launch of the Ørsted satellite in 1999 marked the beginning of a new era in the exploration of the Earth's magnetic field from space. Data of unprecedented resolution and spatial coverage have been collected by Ørsted and the follow-on mission CHAMP - and we can expect more: in November last year the European Space Agency launched the three-satellite constellation Swarm that will measure the geomagnetic field with unprecedented accuracy. All these satellite observations provide valuable information about the interior of our planet as well as its environment.

The observed magnetic field contains, however, a superposition of contributions from different sources: the core field caused by the geodynamo in the Earth's interior, magnetized rocks in the Earth's crust, electric currents in the ionosphere, magnetosphere and oceans and by currents induced in the Earth by time-varying external fields powered by the sun. The scientific challenge is to separate these contributions and to interpret the signatures of the different processes they represent.

The seminar is devoted to the various steps needed to explore the geomagnetic field from space: from the measurements taken by satellites to data processing and interpretation of the results, which special focus on the ongoing Swarm data processing.