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Integrated Program / Observational Stratgies/ Strategy 3: Variability of Earth's Magnetic Field  






Magnetic anomaly imagesGeomagnetism provides one of three space-based techniques to probe the Earth's interior. (The other two are gravity and Earth rotation.) Geomagnetic studies are currently limited by a paucity of observations and attendant difficulty in their interpretation. Recent advances in nanosatellite technology hold the promise for cost-effective geomagnetic constellation operations.

Constellation measurements provide a number of advantages over single-satellite measurements, including improved tracking of external field variability with local time and latitude, by observing the field simultaneously at a range of local times; improved observation of the main field and short-period temporal variations; and magnetic gradient measurements for the determination of magnetospheric and ionospheric current systems and the determination of an accurate external field model.

Suggested mission phasing and requirements

Immediate (1–5 years): Support of analysis of geomagnetic observations from current satellite missions. Development of a modularized instrument package to facilitate taking advantage of missions of opportunity.

Near Term (5–10 years): Constellation of 4-6 satellites at a range of local times in polar orbit at approximately 800-km altitude.

Long term (10–25 years): Complete, 12-satellite constellation by adding satellites at lower altitude (300 km) in polar orbit (to enhance study of the crustal field) and at 800 km in a low-inclination orbit (to enhance recovery of mantle electrical conductivity). Technological advancements on incorporating star trackers on magnetometers and improved lifetimes at low altitudes.


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