Zone of Low Magnetic Intensity Causes Concern for NASA

September 13, 2020 in News by RBN Staff



by Brian Trusdell

An oval-shaped area of lower magnetic intensity in the atmosphere between South America and Africa is causing concern to NASA over the potential danger it poses to satellites and spacecraft that pass through it, the website reported.

The South Atlantic Anomaly, first identified in 1958, appears to be dividing into two different cells, one over South America and the other off the coast of South Africa.

The concern is due to the fact the weakened magnetic field results in the closest approach of the Van Allen radiation belts to the Earth’s surface. That leaves what some scientists refer to a “pothole” or “dent” in which charged solar particles can sail through the Earth’s atmosphere and wreak havoc on electronic components, causing them to short-circuit and malfunction.

 “The observed SAA can be also interpreted as a consequence of weakening dominance of the dipole field in the region,” according to geophysicist and mathematician Weijia Kuang at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.