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Earth's North Pole shifts, confirms ESA Swarm mission

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The European Space Agency's (ESA) Swarm satellite system has confirmed that the Earth's North Pole has shifted.

Launched in Nov. 2013, the Swarm satellite system comprises three satellites that provide high-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength, direction and variations of the Earth's magnetic field from outer space.

"Measurements made over the past six months confirm the general trend of the field's weakening, with the most dramatic declines over the Western Hemisphere. But in other areas, such as the southern Indian Ocean, the magnetic field has strengthened since January," per ESA. "The latest measurements also confirm the movement of magnetic North towards Siberia."

Scientists suggest that the changes in the magnetic signals originate from the planet's core. In the next few months, the scientists will analyze the data to understand the magnetic signal originations from other parts of the Earth such as the crust, mantle, oceans, magnetosphere and ionosphere.

"This will provide new insight into many natural processes, from those occurring deep inside our planet to space weather triggered by solar activity. In turn, this information will yield a better understanding of why the magnetic field is weakening," added ESA.

Rune Floberghagen, ESA's Swarm Mission Manager says that the initial findings made by Swarm reflects the outstanding performance of the satellite system. Floberghagen says that the data collected by Swarm is in extraordinary resolution and highlights the satellite system's capability to capture even fine-scale features of the Earth's magnetic field.

Prof. Volker Liebig, the director of Earth observation at ESA, suggests that the data obtained from Swarm is very accurate. The latest findings will help future research but it will take a lot of time and effort to understand the magnetic field of the Earth.

The mission's first result was presented recently at the "Third Swarm Science Meeting" in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Scientists believe that there is evidence that the magnetic poles of the Earth reverse, a process that is not predictable and can take thousands of years. The latest data collected from Swarm does reflect that Earth's poles may reverse but it will take thousands of years before it happens.

The Swarm mission is planned for around four years from its launch. However, if scientists get valuable data from the mission then they may request relevant authorities to extend it for another few years.

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