American Space body NASA’s research made a startling revelation in connection with Earth’s magnetic field.
The scientists have discovered a small, evolving area of weaker magnetism in Earth’s magnetic field.
The South Atlantic Anomaly
Over South America and the southern portion of the Atlantic Ocean, a weak spot has emerged in the Earth’s magnetic field and this is called as the South Atlantic Anomaly.
Currently, the anomaly has not impacted human life however, scientists fear that the region expands westward Scientists fear Particle radiation can impact man-made satellites as it can interfere with the data collection process.
Scientists are also tracking the changes in magnetic field strength and are studying if can impact Earth’s atmosphere as it acts as a protective shield against charged particles of the Sun.
The Core of the issue
The South Atlantic Anomaly comes from the following properties of Earth’s core:
1) Tilt of Core’s magnetic axis
2) Flow of molten metals within outer core.
Earth is a bit like a bar magnet, with north and south poles that represent opposing magnetic polarities and invisible magnetic field lines encircling the planet between them.
Core’s magnetic field is neither aligned like a bar magnet nor is it perfectly stable as it originates from Earth’s outer core which is in constant, complex motion due to which the magnetic field fluctuates in space and time. This motion ensures the magnetic field surrounds the planet.
The forces in the core and the tilt of the magnetic axis together produce the anomaly which in turn allows allowing charged particles to enter Earth’s magnetic field.
The observed SAA can be also interpreted as a consequence of weakening dominance of the dipole field in the region. More specifically, a localized field with reversed polarity grows strongly in the SAA region, thus making the field intensity very weak, weaker than that of the surrounding regions.Weijia Kuang, geophysicist & mathematician
Why its a problem?
1) hazardous for low-Earth orbit satellites that travel through it as a short-circuit can occur if it is hit by a high-energy proton
2)Instruments on International Space Station, which is in low-Earth orbit, such as Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation mission can be impacted.
An oppurtunity to learn
On the flip side, this anamaly helps scientists understand Earth’s core, and how its dynamics influence other aspects of the Earth system. By tracking this slowly evolving “dent” in the magnetic field, researchers can better understand the way our planet is changing and help prepare for a safer future for satellites.