This massive, developing phenomenon, called the South Atlantic Anomaly, has intrigued and worried scientists for years, and perhaps no more to NASA researchers. The space agency’s satellites and spacecraft are particularly vulnerable to weak magnetic field strengths within the anomaly, and as a result are exposed to charged particles from the Sun.
The South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) – more like a ‘dent’ in the Earth’s magnetic field by NASA, or a ‘pit in space’ – does not usually affect life on Earth, but does not say the same for orbital May be spacecraft (including the International Space Station), which pass directly through the anomaly, as they rotate at a height in low-Earth orbit.
During these encounters, the low magnetic field strength inside the anomaly means that technical systems can short-circuit onboard and malfunction if the satellites are hit by high-energy protons emanating from the Sun.
These random hits can usually only produce low-level glits, but they carry the risk of significant data loss, or even permanent damage to key components – to space operators in the spacecraft’s anomaly zone Force regular spacecraft systems to shut down before arrival.
Reducing those threats in space is one reason NASA is tracking SAA; Another is that the mystery of the discrepancy represents a great opportunity to investigate a complex and difficult-to-understand phenomenon, and NASA’s extensive resources and research groups are uniquely well placed to study the phenomenon. is appointed.
“The magnetic field is actually a superposition of fields from many existing sources,” explains geophysicist Terry Sabka of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The primary source is thought to be a revolving ocean of molten iron inside the outer core of the Earth, thousands of kilometers below ground. The speed of that mass produces electric currents that create the Earth’s magnetic field, but not necessarily the same.
A massive reservoir of dense rock called the African Large Low Sheer Velocity Province, located 2,900 kilometers (1,800 mi) below the African continent, disturbs the generation of the region, resulting in a dramatically weakened effect – which is the planet’s magnetic effect. Axis aids the axis.
“The observed SAA can also be understood as a consequence of the weak dominance of the dipole field in the field,” says NASA’s Goddard geophysicist and mathematician Weizia Kuang.
“In particular, a localized region with reversed polarity increases strongly in the SAA region, thus the intensity of the field is much weaker, which is weaker than the surrounding regions.”
Although many scientists are still not fully aware of the discrepancy and its implications, new insights are constantly shedding light on this strange phenomenon.
For example, in 2016, a study led by NASA heliophysicist Ashley Greeley showed that the SAA is flowing slowly in the northwest direction.
It doesn’t just move, though. Even more remarkably, the event appears to be in the process of splitting into two, with researchers this year finding that the SAA appears to divide into two separate cells, each with a maximum magnetic intensity within the minimum anomaly. K represents a different center.
Just what this means for the future of SAA is unknown, but in any case, there is evidence to suggest that the discrepancy is not a new appearance.
A study published last month suggested that this phenomenon is not a freak event of recent times, but a recurrent magnetic event, which could have affected the Earth 11 million years ago.
If so, this may indicate that the South Atlantic anomaly is not the trigger or precursor to the flow of the entire planet’s magnetic field, which is something that actually occurs, if not for hundreds of thousands of years at a time.
Obviously, huge questions remain, but with this huge magnetic asymmetry going on a lot, it’s good to know that the world’s most powerful space agency is watching it as closely as possible.
Everybody says, “Although SAA is moving at a slow pace, it is undergoing some change in morphology, so it’s also important that we continue this.”
“Because this is what helps us build models and forecasts.”