"The Earth Seen From Apollo 17" by NASA / Public Domain

How NASA is dealing with the ‘dent’ in Earth’s magnetic field

Aug 19, 2020

By Stephanie Pappas

Earth is an enormous magnet, its iron-rich core creating a shield of magnetic field that envelopes the planet —— well, almost. A “dent” in this magnetic field known as the South Atlantic Anomaly allows charged particles from the sun to dip closer to the planet in an area over South America and the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

These particles, at the very least, can mess with instruments up in space. So NASA scientists and other researchers have no choice but to adapt to this hiccup in the magnetic field, switching off satellite instruments that pass through the SAA and accepting the loss of some data on instruments aboard the International Space Station (ISS). They’re also keeping close tabs on the SAA, according to a new article from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“Even though the SAA is slow-moving, it is going through some change in morphology, so it’s also important that we keep observing it,” Terry Sabaka, a geophysicist at Goddard in Maryland, said in the piece.

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