Thematic Group: PEPS
Scientific Leader: Frédéric Pitout

Description / Background

SWARM is a multi-satellites mission of the European Space Agency. The three satellites were launched in November 2013 on low altitude polar orbits (~450 km for SWARM A and C and ~530 km for SWARM B). The main goal of the mission is the accurate measurement of the Earth’s internal magnetic field. The three satellites have on board all the instrumentation adapted to these measurements but also to the measurements of the properties of the environment crossed by the probes and which “interfere” with the measurement of the internal field. These contributions (external field, electric charges) considered undesirable by part of the scientific community are precisely those that are useful to characterize the near-Earth space environment. In addition to the magnetic field, with SWARM we have access to ionospheric (electronic concentration and temperature, ion velocity, etc.) and thermospheric (density of neutral species) parameters.

Scientific Objectives

SWARM satellites are used in the team for investigations of magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere coupling at high and low latitudes. Particularly studied are field-aligned currents and their interactions with the ionosphere, and the reaction of the ionosphere and thermosphere to extreme solar events. This last topic is the subject of coordinated measurements with the instrumentation installed at the Oukaimeden Observatory in the Moroccan High Atlas.

Involvement of IRAP

At the beginning of the mission, IRAP was asked to participate in studies of possible synergies between SWARM and the Cluster magnetospheric mission. Today, the team is exploiting the data.


Our privileged partners are the IRF of Uppsala, Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech and the IPGP. The scientific activities around the SWARM mission are funded by CNES. A PhD thesis in progress is funded by Campus France within the framework of the PHC Toubkal.