Gravity Field Models from Swarm data
In addition to its geomagnetic objectives, GPS receivers onboard Swarm can and have already been exploited to measure temporal variations in Earth's global gravity field.
Steve over the picket fence
Strange ribbons of purple light that appeared in the sky – known as Steve – and became the subject of a debate in 2017.

blue arrow Mission Overview

Swarm Logo

Swarm is ESA's first constellation mission for Earth Observation (EO). The mission consists of three identical satellites named Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie; launched on 22 November 2013 into a near-polar orbit.

Swarm is dedicated to creating a highly detailed survey of the Earth's geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution as well as the electric field in the atmosphere, by using a satellite constellation that carries sophisticated magnetometers and other instruments.

The final constellation of the mission was achieved on 17 April 2014. Swarm A and C form the lower pair of satellites flying side-by-side (1.4° separation in longitude) at an altitude of 462 km (initial altitude) and at 87.35° inclination angle, whereas Swarm B is cruising at a higher orbit of 511 km (initial altitude) and at 87.75° inclination angle.

In March 2018, the CASSIOPE/ e-POP mission was formally integrated into the Swarm constellation as the fourth element (Swarm-Echo) under ESA's Earthnet Third Party Mission Programme. The e-POP payload operations are currently focused on maximising the Swarm/e-POP scientific outcome, and there is an ongoing joint effort to develop new and better-calibrated products based on e-POP data.

Swarm was designed to operate for four years, following a three-month commissioning phase. In November 2017, the mission was granted a four-year extension to 2021.

blue arrow Mission Objectives

Earths Magnetic Core

The Swarm mission primary objectives are:

  • study of core dynamics, geodynamo processes and core-mantle interaction
  • mapping of lithospheric magnetisation and its geological interpretation
  • determination of the 3D electrical conductivity of the mantle
  • investigatigation of electric currents flowing in the magnetosphere and ionosphere

and secondary objectives are:

  • identifying the ocean circulation by its magnetic signature
  • quantifying the magnetic forcing of the upper atmosphere

blue arrow Instruments

Swarm instruments

The Absolute Scalar Magnetometer measures the strength of the magnetic field also used to a great accuracy. It provides scalar measurements of the magnetic field to calibrate the onboard Vector Field Magnetometer. The ASM is an absolute instrument, i.e. it is not subject to changes of its intrinsic parameters over time.
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The Electrical Field Instrument consists of two components: the Langmuir Probe (LP) and the Thermal Ion Imager (TII). The probes provide measurements of the electron density, electron temperature and spacecraft potential. The TII characterizes the ion drift and velocity in high resolution to determine the electric field around the Earth.
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The Vector Field Magnetometer is Swarm’s core instrument. It makes high-precision measurements of the magnitude and direction of the magnetic field, i.e. the field’s vector. The orientation of the vector is determined by the star tracker assembly, which provides attitude data.

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The Star Tracker is comprised of three Camera Head Units (CHUs) mounted on the innermost end of the optical bench. It retrieves information on the precise satellite orientation and attitude in space.

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The GPS Receiver receives signals from any GPS satellites visible to its antenna. The GPSR provides an accurate location and time reference to the main instruments on board the Swarm satellites. The Laser Retro-Reflector is used for external calibration and validation of the on board GPS receiver. This instrument provides positioning information through ground-based satellite laser ranging. find out more
The Accelerometer measures the satellite’s non-gravitational acceleration in its respective orbit. The instrument helps scientists to study factors that cause non-gravitational accelerations such as air drag, winds, Earth albedo, and direct solar radiation pressure on the spacecraft.

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blue arrow Data

blue arrow DATA DOWNLOAD

Download data from the Swarm mission through the Swarm Dissemination Server.

The access and use of Swarm products are regulated by ESA's Data Policy and subject to the acceptance of the specific Terms and Conditions.


The Swarm mission delivers Level 1b and Level 2 data products. Data products are available from individual satellites on a daily basis or from the full constellation.

The data is freely available to everyone.

Swarm data products are also available by the thematic areas the mission supports:

Learn more about the Swarm products in the Swarm Product Data Handbook. The handbook provides a detailed description of the products. It is a useful reference to support the use of Swarm products for further processing or applications.

blue arrow DATA TOOLS

VirES for Swarm, the virtual research service, is a highly interactive data manipulation and retrieval interface for Swarm constellation mission products. It includes tools for studying various geomagnetic models by comparing them to the Swarm satellite measurements at given space weather and ionospheric conditions.
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The Swarm Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is a cloud service which provides a web-based interactive development environment based on JupyterLab.

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Swarm-Aurora is a web-based platform that facilitates the identification of opportunities for auroral research utilising Swarm data.

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The Average Magnetic field and Polar current System model (AMPS) is a climatological model of polar ionospheric currents, based on magnetic field measurements from the CHAMP and Swarm satellites.

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blue arrow DATA QUALITY

Swarm Quality Control Reports are produced on a weekly basis and cover the quality and the data acquired by the three Swarm satellites and the products produced from this data. The quality control methods and diagnostics are continuously evolving and improving throughout the mission lifetime, in order to report also on the product evolutions and status of the instruments.

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