Science & Tech

A big dent in the Earth's magnetic field is making scientists nervous

A big dent in the Earth's magnetic field is making scientists nervous
Geophysicists Discover New Magnetic Waves Moving Around Deep Inside the Earth

There’s a pretty hefty dent in the Earth's magnetic field and it’s giving scientists cause for concern.

The Earth’s magnetic field is vital for protecting the planet from the Sun’s rays, but an area of weakness in the field has been detected which is making experts nervous.

The weak area is a region called the South Atlantic Anomaly and it’s been studied by NASA over recent years.

According to ScienceAlert, the area in the field between South America and Africa is being described as a “pothole in space”.

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While the region doesn’t post an immediate threat to life, it could have a big impact on man-made structures in our orbit.

It means that spacecraft and satellites which stay in the Earth’s magnetic field as they orbit the planet could face technical difficulties as the protection from the sun’s rays is reduced. Exposure in this way could lead to critical damage in the long term.

"The magnetic field is actually a superposition of fields from many current sources," geophysicist Terry Sabaka from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre said back in 2020.

"The observed SAA can be also interpreted as a consequence of weakening dominance of the dipole field in the region," said fellow NASA Goddard geophysicist Weijia Kuang.

"More specifically, a localized field with reversed polarity grows strongly in the SAA region, thus making the field intensity very weak, weaker than that of the surrounding regions."

"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 by having continued missions," said Sabaka.

"Because that's what helps us make models and predictions."

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