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Swarm: ready for space mission

Airbus Defence and Space’s satellite fleet successfully tested

The three Airbus Defence and Space built satellites of the Swarm constellation have completed a series of environmental tests designed to demonstrate their fitness for space flight. The purpose of the Swarm mission is to analyse, in unprecedented detail, the geomagnetic field and its evolution over time. The results of the mission will help to improve our understanding of the Earth’s interior and climate. The trio of satellites is due to be launched from Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome in July 2012.

Airbus Defence and Space – selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as the prime contractor for the Swarm mission – is currently carrying out further extensive functional checks on the satellites. Preparations for the launch are scheduled to begin in May, when the three satellites will be shipped to Russia. All three satellites will be launched simultaneously from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome (around 800 kilometres northeast of Moscow) on a single Rockot launch vehicle.

Swarm: a trio of satellites for a unique view inside the Earth


Scientists hope that the three identical Swarm satellites will provide the most accurate survey to date of the geomagnetic field and record any changes that occur. Swarm will, in a manner of speaking, follow in the footsteps of Jules Verne’s novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. Today, however, it is no longer necessary to dig tunnels or drill holes to take a closer look at the composition of the Earth’s interior. Thanks to the development of ‘satellite remote sensing’, Swarm can achieve this goal from orbit. The Earth’s gravitational and magnetic fields offer direct insights into the workings of its interior: from the variations these fields display at different times and places, scientists can draw conclusions about the dynamic processes taking place beneath the planet’s surface.

Read the press release

Swarm's programme page

Earth ObservationSwarm