ESA funds UK’s Open Cosmos to monitor Earth’s magnetic field

ESA funds UK’s Open Cosmos to monitor Earth’s magnetic field

NanoMagSat is a planned small satellite constellation aiming to use a novel suite of instruments to monitor the Earth magnetic field and the ionospheric environment. It will succeed the current ESA Swarm satellites that have been monitoring the space weather since 2013.

Together with other organisations – IPGP, CEA-Leti, COMET-Ingenieria and University of Oslo – Open Cosmos will be working on activities to de-risk the critical elements of the NanoMagSat mission.

According to the company identifying and understanding Earth’s magnetic field multiple sources is essential to aid precise navigation, reveal properties of the shallow and deep Earth, and provide key information for geophysical surveying of minerals.


The NanoMagSat mission concept involves an innovative revisiting time strategy and combination of instruments (one self-calibrated absolute scalar/vector magnetometer combined with star trackers on an optical bench, one high frequency vector magnetometer, a multi-needle Langmuir probe and two dual frequency GNSS receivers for recovery of Total Electron Content and ionospheric radio-occultation data).

Open Cosmos writes:

“The consortium proposes a novel approach using a new constellation concept and low-cost small satellites to increase the temporal resolution at which the various components of Earth’s magnetic field can be recovered, as well as using a well-chosen payload to initiate new ways of sounding the ionospheric environment.”

“The innovative orbital strategy of combining a satellite in polar orbit together with 2 orbits inclined at 60° would provide an improved temporal revisit (the time it takes to return to and acquire data from the same location at the same time) of a little more than one month for latitudes within 60°N/S. It is also designed to work in conjunction with Swarm, should Swarm still be in operation at the time of launch. The approach is fully scalable with additional satellites that could be added to further increase this performance.”

The consortium aims to propose a mission costing less than €30m, to be developed within 3 years.

“This contract is a landmark for Open Cosmos and for the NanoMagSat mission concept,” said Florian Deconinck, Vice President of Institutional Partnerships & Future Missions at Open Cosmos. “It is a concrete step towards making this mission concept feasible which if implemented would complement and expand on the results from renown missions like Oersted, CHAMP or Swarm.”

“More generally it illustrates how ESA, the industry and academia can work together to show the potential of future micro-satellite constellation missions to significantly contribute towards big scientific challenges.”

Open Cosmos was founded in 2015 by Rafel Jordá Siquier and is based in Harwell.

Image: NanoMagSat

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