Swarm: ESA’s magnetic field mission

Heading true north

The Swarm mission will unravel one of the most mysterious aspects of our planet: the magnetic field. 

The magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on everyday 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.

Although we know that the magnetic field originates from several places, exactly how it is generated and why it changes is not yet fully understood.

Earth’s 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. Moreover, the strength of the magnetic field constantly changes – and it is currently showing signs of weakening.

Swarm is ESA’s first constellation of satellites to advance our understanding of how Earth works.

Harnessing European and Canadian technological excellence, the three identical Swarm satellites are designed to identify and measure very precisely the different magnetic signals that make up the magnetic field. 

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