It is well-known that the Earth's magnetic field may flip (geomagnetic reversal), and some data suggests it is weakening or distorting. The following shows the Earth's magnetic field at its surface in June 2014 (by ESA) which shows some distortion.

enter image description here

My question is, can such changes in the Earth's magnetic field affect the space exploration systems and satellites and possibly cause troubles for them?

  • $\begingroup$ The time of variation is wildly different. The time scale of the field reversals is $100,000$ to $1,000,000$ years according to your link. As spacecraft programs are no longer than decades the field won't change enough to matter in that time. Measurements like this are interesting to understand geophysics, but the variation is small over a human lifetime. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2015 at 4:48

1 Answer 1


The short answer is yes, changes in the Earth's magnetic field would cause a lot of troubles. But here's a longer answer:

Currently the Earth's magnetic field does a pretty good job of diverting particles from the Sun and protecting us from solar winds. The weakening of the Earth's magnetic field would change a lot of things:

First of all solar winds reaching the Earth could knock out our computers and communication systems, it's obvious that this will effect space exploration.

Second of all humans in space would be even less protected against radiation, thus making human space exploration even more dangerous and riskier.

By the weakening of the Earth's magnetic field our satellites would be also more exposed to solar winds. If the satellites aren't well protected against solar winds, we could loose them.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Many thanks for the answer! (although I hoped to get more thorough answers for this question.) $\endgroup$
    – user215721
    Mar 14, 2015 at 22:03

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