New Delhi (NVI): The protective magnetic field around Earth is in the process of splitting into two, according to NASA.
The Earth’s magnetic field acts like a protective shield around the planet, repelling and trapping charged particles from the Sun.
However, over South America and the southern Atlantic Ocean, an unusually weak spot in the field – called the South Atlantic Anomaly, or SAA – allows these particles to dip closer to the surface than normal.
A weak magnetic field would mean that the particle radiation from the Sun gets closer to the Earth’s surface than otherwise.
In addition to this, particle radiation in this region can knock out onboard computers and interfere with the data collection of satellites that pass through it – a key reason why NASA scientists want to track and study the anomaly.
Even though the SAA hasn’t had any visible impact on daily life so far, having it separate into two different anomalies will create additional challenges for satellite missions.
A host of NASA scientists in geomagnetic, geophysics, and heliophysics research groups observe and model the SAA, to monitor and predict future changes – and help prepare for future challenges to satellites and humans in space.