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News Picks : ESA mission to map magnetosphere to launch tomorrow

By: Physics Today
Fri Nov 22 15:00:00 UTC 2013
Nature: The European Space Agency’s €220 million ($296 million) three-satellite Swarm mission is set to launch tomorrow just after noon GMT from Plesetsk spaceport in Russia. The goal of the ESA mission is to measure and monitor Earth’s geomagnetic field over the next four years. The three satellites will be distributed in two different polar orbits, with one of the satellites at a higher altitude than the other two. The two satellites in the lower orbit will allow the researchers to take measurements from the night and day sides of Earth simultaneously to help eliminate any electromagnetic noise generated on the surface. The higher-altitude satellite will help to separate the geomagnetic field from the magnetic field generated by the solar wind. Positioning the satellites will be a difficult process, and there are some concerns about the Rockot launch vehicle, which failed on a previous ESA launch in 2005.

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