NEWS: Space Radiation Probes Make ‘Shock' Discovery
There is some evidence that Earth's magnetic field is weakening, a sign perhaps that the field is preparing to flip. Geologic records show that happens on average about every 250,000 years, but the last time Earth's magnetic field flipped was about 800,000 years ago.
"We really need to go what's going on because it does have an impact on life," mission manager Rune Floberghagen said in an European Space Agency interview.
"It has an impact on the behavior of animals. It has an impact on navigation systems. It has an impact on a lot of things, practical things to all of us, not only scientists who would like to understand the Earth itself," he said.
ANALYSIS: Our Planet, Tangled in Magnetic Spaghetti
Swarm is designed to ferret out the different sources of Earth's magnetism as well as study currents in the planet's ionosphere that can interfere with the magnetic field coming from the core.
"Swarm is about to fill a gap in our view of the Earth system and in our monitoring of global change issues," Volker Liebig, ESA's director for Earth observation, said in a statement.