The Delta low-inclination satellite concept, an opportunity to enhance the science return of the Swarm mission

Gauthier Hulot, Jean-Michel Leger, Nils Olsen, Claudia Stolle, Arnaud Chulliat, Alexey Kuvshinov, Pierre Vigneron, Vincent Lesur, Hisayoshi Shimizu, Binod Sreenivasan

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


ESA’s Swarm mission aims at studying all sources of Earth’s magnetic field. It consists of two satellites (Alpha and Charlie), which fly side-by-side on near polar orbits at an altitude of slightly less than 500 km, and of a third satellite (Bravo) on a similar but slightly more polar and higher orbit, which progressively drifts with respect to that of Alpha and Charlie. This orbital configuration has proven extremely valuable, as evidenced by the many results already obtained from the first two years of the mission. These results, however, also reveal that geomagnetic field modeling and investigation efforts are now hampered by the still limited local time coverage provided by this constellation. This affects our ability to accurately characterize time changes in the ionospheric and magnetospheric field contributions, and to model the electrical conductivity of the Earth’s mantle. It also indirectly limits our ability to model the core and lithospheric field. More generally, many of the “residual signals” detected in the very accurate magnetic data of the Swarm mission can still not fully be exploited. Further increasing the scientific return of the Swarm mission by squeezing more out of these data, however, would be possible if a fourth “Delta” satellite were to be launched soon enough to join the constellation at a similar altitude but much lower inclination orbit (such as 60°). Such a satellite would provide less geographical coverage but a much faster mapping of all local times over these latitudes. In this presentation we will present the rational for such a Delta mission and discuss the benefit it would bring.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventESA Living Planet Symposium 2016 - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 9 May 201613 May 2016


ConferenceESA Living Planet Symposium 2016
CountryCzech Republic
Internet address

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