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EU Earth Space

Satellite Swarm Spots North Pole Drift 80

An anonymous reader writes "A report from the European Space Agency shows the first collection of high-resolution results from the agency's three-satellite Swarm. The report illustrates the latest changes in the Earth's magnetic field and shows the movement of the magnetic North Pole. "Launched in November 2013, ESA's Swarm mission consists of three 9-meter satellites orbiting the planet at altitudes of 300-530 km (186-330 miles). Their goal is to monitor Earth's dynamic magnetic field, observing its changes over a period of four years. The data gathered by the Swarm satellites will help scientists better understand how our magnetic field works, how it's influenced by solar activity, and why large parts of it are found to be weakening.""
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Satellite Swarm Spots North Pole Drift

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  • this will bring out the global warming deniers.
    • by narcc ( 412956 )


      Global warming has already been mentioned here, sure, but not by deniers.

      I think you have a bad case of "talk about the thing I think I know about because I don't understand the current topic".

    • Do you actually have a rational explanation for how global warming is responsible for the shifting of the magnetic field. All kinds of evidence exists to show that the field has shifted and reversed many times in the past and I have never read a single article linking any of this with any of the previous warming trends.

      Who is now talking out of their ass?

  • not North Pole drift (Score:5, Informative)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @12:57PM (#47298811)

    bad headline, the drifting of the North Pole is seperate matter from drift of magnetic pole. The magnetic pole is moving north at 40 km / year (accelerating from its former value of 10 km/ year a century ago. Normal and expected too.

    The north pole itself moves a few cm per year

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't any direction the North Pole moves in north?

      • no, the magnetic pole is south of the north pole, and the north pole itself can only be moving in a southern direction if you think about it.

        • the north pole itself can only be moving in a southern direction if you think about it.

          No, it's just a good hockey player, like you would expect of the north pole. As the Great One said, it skates "to where the pole will be." That's the real northerly direction.

        • How can express the movement of the north pole in terms of north or south, given that it is the pole itself that defines those terms?

          • there is a south pole too, so very easy to say away from the north pole is south, and if the north pole is moving on the face of the earth, the velocity vector tangent to the surface must be pointing south.

          • There is more than one North Pole. For one, there is North Pole, Alaska (which isn't even above the Arctic Circle!). More seriously, we have the magnetic north pole, where the compasses point to, and then the point where the Earth's rotational axis meets the Earth's surface. It's not quite accurate to say that the rotational axis moves relative to the Earth's surface, although the planet does wobble on its axis. However, we usually express that in terms of which point on the celestial sphere the Earth appea

    • And even faster [] than that...

      The magnetic north [] pole had moved little from the time scientists first located it in 1831. Then in 1904, the pole began shifting northeastward at a steady pace of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) a year.

      In 1989 it sped up again, and in 2007 scientists confirmed that the pole is now galloping toward Siberia at 34 to 37 miles (55 to 60 kilometers) a year.

    • by Kiliani ( 816330 )

      Depends on your definition of "soon". I don't plan on sticking around for it. But you are right, it's overdue - and it would last about as long as China is old now. Wouldn't worry about this at the moment unless your next research grant depends on it ...

  • Since when are three objects considered a swarm? If that's acceptable it should be appended to the list [].

    • It's a proper name, not the noun or an acronym. At least, that's what I could gather. Usually a mission is named via acronym (Synchronous Wideband Analysis for Research of Magnetism, or some such), or occasionally after a famous administrator (James Webb Space Telescope, named after the 2nd NASA Administrator) or the (rarely) a famous principal scientist. This seems to be none of those, or at least I couldn't find a reference on the ESA pages. Damned Europeans. They're mocking us with their "no rules" satel

      • The Economist had an article [] a couple of weeks ago about a NASA-funded project.

        Stone Aerospace named the penetrator VALKYRIE. This is not in reference to the Norse deity but rather because it needed “a frickin’ cool acronym”, Dr Stone says.

        A refreshing dose of honesty.

    • Well, that depends.
      Three cars... no. Three Three airplanes... no. Three angry wasps trying to sting me... yes.

    • My initial thought as well. Upon further research, the Danish noun sværm (transliterated to the proper name Swarm for the three-satellite program) may be translated as swarm, flight or cloud. I can see referring to three satellites as a flight. []
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      I thought the collective term for satellites was a constellation.

      Like a murder of crows, a gaggle of geese, a misery of ex-wives.

  • by Cliff Stoll ( 242915 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @01:14PM (#47298935) Homepage

    This is important work, which compliments terrestial geomagnetic measurements and space based observations.

    The earth's magnetic field results from a planetary dynamo. Magnetic field lines get frozen into the electrically conductive fluid core. Then, differential motions in the fluid causes the magnetic field to get twisted up -- it's no longer is the simple dipole (like those bar magnets that you played with as a kid). Instead, the earth's magnetic field develops high order moments (sorta like bumps and dips). These shapes evolve as the conductive core moves. Eventually, the magnetic field gets so tangled up, that it unravels. At that time, the earth's field reverses. These magnetic field reversals show up in the geologic record ... every 10,000 to 100,000 years, there's a flipover.

    Measurements like the ESA Swarm satellite give us a handle on the evoloution of the Earth's magnetic field, as well as showing how that field interacts with the magnetic and particle environment of the solar wind.

    (disclaimer - most of what I just posted is from a terrific graduate class that I took at the Lunar & Planetary Labs way back in 1979, and when I worked with Charles Sonett, who studied the solar wind. Likely, much of this is way out of date!)

    • The earth's magnetic field results from a planetary dynamo.

      Dumb question: Could the "dynamo" be used to create current?

      It would be nice if we could use the rotation of the Earth as an energy source.

      We put some satellites into a polar orbit to act as the, um, what's the word...stator?

      Yeah, it's a dumb question.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )
        Even if you could somehow make a satellite to extract energy, it would cause a drag on the satellite. So all you're doing is converting the satellite's momentum (that took precious rocket fuel to create) back into energy.
      • by punman ( 412350 )

        I'd be shocked if we could do this with current technology.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It would be nice if we could use the rotation of the Earth as an energy source.

        My work day is already too long, you insensitive clod!

      • by jovius ( 974690 )

        Satellites may benefit from rolling out long thin wires while rotating in the Earth's magnetosphere. There's so called electric sail [] project in the testing phase where they are doing just that. The ready mechanism will not work in the Earth's magnetosphere though.

        Wind, tidal and coriolis forces can be more easily tapped for energy, although they are not all directly caused by the planet's rotation.

      • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @02:43PM (#47299551)

        That's not a dumb question.

        Some of the biggest breakthroughs have come about from people asking "Why can't we do _X_?"

      • by fermion ( 181285 )
        Short answer yes [].
  • Rift opens in twelve.

    Hope you are ready for the Event

  • the last one in Poland please turn the lights off.
  • The core of the earth is a molten core of iron. Iron is magnetic. As it moves around, the magnetic field around it will change. The magnetic north has been moving long before humans walked the earth and probably will be moving around long after we leave. As with NOAA faking the "man made" global warming data, this will just be another way to scare the morons that don't think into believing global warming is caused by man.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?