Successful launch of Swarm satellites

Friday 29 Nov 13
|
by Christoffer Muusmann

Contact

John Leif Jørgensen
Professor and Head of Measurement and Instrumentation
DTU Space
+4545 25 34 48

Contact

Nils Olsen
Professor -head of Geomagnetism
DTU Space
+4545 25 97 08

A swarm of satellites is now voyaging through space, carrying a range of Danish equipment.

DTU Space is heading up an international partnership centred on the Swarm satellite mission, whose objective is to map the Earth’s magnetic field with previously unseen accuracy. The three satellites that form the crux of the mission are now orbiting the Earth following a successful launch on 22 November 2013.

Click here for a detailed description of the mission and the story behind it.

Danish hi-tech equipment

As stated previously, the Swarm satellites are to work together to measure the Earth’s magnetic field. The constellation of three satellites has the capacity to provide measurements of the magnetic field that are almost ten times as accurate as those taken previously by lone satellites.

DTU Space has developed the magnetometers which will record the measurements of the magnetic field. The magnetometers are refined versions of those used aboard the Ørsted, SAC-C and CHAMP satellites, and the positive experience from previous missions has played an important role in developing the magnetometers destined for Swarm. The star camera that determines the orientation of the satellite in space has also been developed by DTU Space.

Studying the core of the planet

DTU Space is responsible for the scientific leadership of the Swarm project, and one of the primary purposes of Swarm is to study the inner layers of the Earth. The planet’s magnetic field is primarily generated in the outer, fluid part of the core, and variations in the magnetic field reflect currents in the core. For this reason, the magnetic field is one of the very few sources of information about the inner workings of the planet.

More than 95 per cent of the Earth’s magnetic field is generated in the core, but the magnetic minerals in the crust and the interaction of the solar winds also contribute to the field—and Swarm will also allow scientists to examine these factors in more detail.