Weakening Magnetic Field Causing Issues for Satellites, Space Craft

Earth’s magnetic field weakens, impacting satellites and spacecraft: report

Earth’s magnetic field weakens, impacting satellites and spacecraft: report

Even though the Earth's magnetic field looks just like a bar magnet, with two poles on either end, the way it's generated is much more complex. The area between South America and Africa specialists designated as the South Atlantic anomaly. As is known, the magnetic field is not stable. Over the past two centuries the Earth has lost about 9% of the magnetic field. It appears that the location of the north magnetic pole is determined by the balancing act of two massive magnetic regions plunging into the Earth right next to each other.

On average the planet's magnetic field has lost nearly 10% of its strength over the last two centuries, but there is a large localised region of weakness stretching from Africa to South America.

Over the last 50 years the intensity of the magnetic field in this area decreased from 24 000 to 22 000 nanotesla.

Researchers from the United Kingdom and Denmark have recently spotted speculation of a pole reversal.

European Space Agency (ESA) scientists from the Swarm Data, Innovation and Science Cluster (DISC) are using data from ESA's Swarm satellite constellation to study the anomaly. These swarm satellites can detect and measure the different magnetic signals that make up the Earth's magnetic field. In the last five years, another centre of low intensity has developed on the south-west side of Africa.

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Precise location tracking requires knowing the details of our Earth's magnetic field changes year-to-year, and this rapid shift in magnetic north is forcing us to revise our maps faster than we expected - and the new understanding helps us better predict where north might be in the future. The results indicate that the South Atlantic Anomaly could break into two separate cells.

However, satellites and spacecraft operating in the weakened region can experience technical malfunctions.

And when this happens, multiple magnetic poles from north and south are popping up around the Earth.

"We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly", Matzka said.

If the poles are in the process of reversing, Daily Mail notes that this will be happening over thousands of years, according to experts who say that it's unlikely the field to completely disappear. This event has occurred few times in the history of our planet, as per the scientists and we are long overdue by the average rate at which these reversals take place (roughly every 250,000 years).

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