Earth’s Second Magnetic Field

April 13, 2018

Earth’s magnetic field has been mapped from space in stunning new detail.

A new movie shows thousands of tiny fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic signals created by ocean tides and our planet’s rigid outer layer, known as its ‘lithosphere’.

The European Space Agency used three satellites to build the map, which it says is the most detailed ever rendering of magnetic fluctuations across Earth’s crust.

The magnetic field is a layer of charge that surrounds our planet and deflects charged particles fired from the sun known as ‘solar wind’.

Without this protective layer, these particles would likely strip away the Ozone layer, our only line of defence against harmful UV radiation.

The map, which is being used to understand more about Earth’s geological history, is thanks to four years of measurements from the agency’s Swarm satellites.

Imagery from the spacecraft was combined with historical data from a previous German spacecraft called Champ and observations from ships and aircraft.

Project scientist Dr Erwan Thebault from the University of Nantes in France said: ‘This is the highest resolution model of the lithospheric magnetic field ever produced.

‘With a scale of 250 kilometres [155 miles], we can see structures in the crust like never before.

‘And, we have gained even finer detail in some parts of the crust, such as beneath Australia, where measurements from aircraft have mapped at resolution of 50 km [30 miles].

‘This combined use of satellite and near-surface measurements gives us a new understanding of the crust beneath our feet, and will be of enormous value to science.’

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