Skip to main content


We’d like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest.

Simulation of the high-degree lithospheric field recovery for the Swarm constellation of satellites


A primary objective of the Swarm constellation mission is to resolve the lithospheric magnetic field with the best achievable accuracy in order to bridge the spectral gap between satellite and airborne/marine magnetic surveys. In a series of end-to-end simulations, the possibilities of high degree field recovery were investigated. The proposed constellation consists of a higher and a lower pair of satellites. It was soon found that a constellation as such does not yet guarantee improved high degree field recovery. Of crucial importance is the orbit constellation of the lower pair of satellites. If the lower satellites follow each other, as investigated in Constellation 1, the gain of a constellation turns out to be marginal, compared to a single satellite. For Constellation 2, the lower satellites were separated in the E/W direction. In this setup, one can use the instantaneous E/W magnetic field gradient between the satellites, as well as the N/S along track gradients. Incorporating this vector gradient information results in significantly improved field resolution. Indeed, the final simulation suggests that the envisaged Swarm constellation will enable the recovery of the lithospheric field to beyond spherical harmonic degree 130.


  1. Arkani-Hamed, J., R. A. Langel, and M. Purucker, Scalar magnetic anomaly maps of Earth derived from POGO and Magsat data, J. Geophys. Res., 99, 24,075–24,090, 1994.

  2. Backus, G., R. L. Parker, and C. Constable, Foundations of Geomagnetism, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.

  3. Cohen, Y. and J. Achache, New global vector magnetic anomaly maps derived from Magsat data, J. Geophys. Res., 95, 10,783–10,800, 1990.

  4. Friis-Christensen, E., H. Lühr, and G. Hulot, Swarm: A constellation to study the Earth’s magnetic field, Earth Planets Space, 58, this issue, 351–358, 2006.

  5. Langel, R. A. and W. J. Hinze, The Magnetic Field of the Earth’s Lithosphere—The Satellite Perspective, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998.

  6. Maus, S., M. Rother, R. Holme, H. Lühr, N. Olsen, and V. Haak, First scalar magnetic anomaly map from CHAMP satellite data indicates weak lithospheric field, Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(14), 10.1029/2001GL013685, 2002.

  7. Maus, S., M. Rother, K. Hemant, C. Stolle, H. Lühr, A. Kuvshinov, and N. Olsen, Earth’s lithospheric magnetic field determined to spherical harmonic degree 90 from CHAMP satellite measurements, Geophys. J. Int., 164, 319–330, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2005.02833.x, 2006

  8. Olsen, N., R. Haagmans, T. J. Sabaka, A. Kuvshinov, S. Maus, M. E. Purucker, M. Rother, V. Lesur, and M. Mandea, The Swarm End-to-End mission simulator study: A demonstration of separating the various contributions to Earth’s magnetic field using synthetic data, Earth Planets Space, 58, this issue, 359–370, 2006.

  9. Ravat, D., R. A. Langel, M. Purucker, J. Arkani-Hamed, and D. E. Alsdorf, Global vector and scalar Magsat magnetic anomaly maps, J. Geophys. Res., 100, 20,111–20,136, 1995.

  10. Regan, R. D., J. C. Cain, and W. M. Davis, A global magnetic anomaly map, J. Geophys. Res., 80, 794–802, 1975.

  11. Tapley, B. D., S. Bettadpur, M. Watkins, and C. Reigber, The gravity recovery and climate experiment: Mission overview and early results, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, 10.1029/2004GL019920, 2004.

  12. Wessel, P. and W. H. F. Smith, Free software helps map and display data, EOS Trans. AGU, 72, 441, 1991.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. Maus.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Maus, S., Lühr, H. & Purucker, M. Simulation of the high-degree lithospheric field recovery for the Swarm constellation of satellites. Earth Planet Sp 58, 397–407 (2006).

Download citation

Key words

  • Geomagnetic field
  • magnetic field modeling
  • crustal magnetic field