TechESA to launch new satellites for Earth's magnetic field study

ESA to launch new satellites for Earth's magnetic field study

Satellite in space - illustrative photo
Satellite in space - illustrative photo
Images source: © NASA

2:34 AM EST, February 28, 2024

This initiative comes from the ESA Earth Observation Programme Board's decision, highlighting the agency's commitment to leveraging space technology for environmental monitoring. Scout satellites, characterized by their compact size, are not only intended to fulfill their primary objectives but also to demonstrate the potential of miniaturized space technologies and pioneering observational techniques. Remarkably, each mission is budgeted not to exceed 39 million dollars, with a timeframe from start to launch of no more than three years.

New Scout satellites from Europe

Prior to this announcement, ESA had begun work on two other Scout satellites—the HydroGNSS. These are tasked with monitoring climate variations and measuring soil moisture. The NanoMagSat and Tango missions, conceived several years ago, were initially put on hold due to technological constraints at the time. Now, with advancements in technology, these projects have been greenlit.

Simonetta Cheli, the director of Earth Observation Programmes at ESA, expressed enthusiasm about the addition of these new missions. “We are very pleased that we can add two new Scout satellites to our portfolio of Earth observation missions. These small scientific missions are a perfect complement to the traditional, current, and future Earth Explorer missions and are anticipated to bring substantial benefits to earth sciences and society,” she stated.

The NanoMagSat mission, in particular, involves sending three satellites into orbit to analyze our planet's magnetic field and study the ionosphere. Each satellite, weighing 53 pounds, will enhance our understanding of the magnetic field's dynamics, the Sun's influence, and the atmosphere-ionosphere-magnetosphere system.

The importance of monitoring the magnetic field

The Earth's magnetic field and the currents within it play a crucial role in our technological society. Data from these satellites will improve space weather forecasts and enhance various technologies, from navigation systems and smartphones to directional drilling methods.

Additionally, the Tango mission is set to build on the work of the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite and the upcoming Copernicus Carbon Dioxide Monitoring instrument by focusing on methane and nitrogen dioxide emissions. This mission will deploy two satellites to monitor emissions from 150 to 300 industrial sites and power plants, providing precise data on these potent greenhouse gases.

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