Saturday , June 6 2020

Magnetic field shock: ESA satellites analyse mysterious South Atlantic Anomaly | Science | News

The magnetic shield which surrounds Earth has weakened by an average of nine percent over the past 200 years, leaving experts baffled. One spot, in particular, has become extremely weak, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly, which stretches from Chile to Zimbabwe.

The Earth’s magnetic field is created by the liquid iron outer core spinning around the solid inner core.

The dynamic action creates an invisible field which goes through the north and south of the planet, and encircling it, which leads to the Earth’s North and South Poles.

Life on Earth relies on the magnetic shield, known as the magnetosphere, as it helps to protect it from deadly radiation from space.

Also, many species of animals, most notably birds, have a sense of the magnetic poles which allow them to successfully navigate the globe during periods of mass-migration.

Due to its importance for Earth, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) has used its Swarm satellite constellation to better understand this anomaly.

Swarm satellites are designed to identify and precisely measure the different magnetic signals which make up the Earth’s magnetic field.

Jürgen Matzka, from the German Research Centre for Geosciences, said: “The new, eastern minimum of the South Atlantic Anomaly has appeared over the last decade and in recent years is developing vigorously.

“We are very lucky to have the Swarm satellites in orbit to investigate the development of the South Atlantic Anomaly.

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As humans did not exist during the last switch, it is impossible to accurately predict how it would affect us as a species.

But with a weakened magnetic shield, the Earth would become more vulnerable to solar storms.

Solar storms are sparked by radiation which pummels our planet heats up the outer atmosphere, causing it to expand.

This means satellite signals would struggle to penetrate the atmosphere, leading to a lack of internet service, GPS navigation, satellite TV such as Sky and mobile phone signal.


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