The primary task of VALS is to test the consistency and validate the data products provided by Vector Field Magnetometer (VFM) and Electric Field Instrument (EFI) onboard the Swarm satellites. Swarm is a key mission of the European Space Agency's Earth Explorer Programme, developed with the objective to provide the best ever survey of the geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution, expanding thus our knowledge about Earth's interior and its nearby environment. It is the first multi-point mission to the ionosphere, consisting of three identical satellites, circling the Earth in near-polar orbits. The mission was launched in November 2013 and is supposed to be operational for at least 10 years.
The activities planed by VALS are part of an effort developed within the international community in response to the Swarm Science and Validation Opportunity call issued by ESA in the fall of 2011. Dr. Adrian Blagau and Dr. Octav Marghitu from the project team are Co-Investigators in a validation proposal assembled by a consortium of institutes led by the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam. The proposal has been evaluated and accepted by ESA in February 2012, the financial resources needed for project execution being provided by the national space agencies, i.e. DLR and ROSA for the activities taking place in Germany and Romania, respectively.
Evolution of Swarm orbits during the mission. The lower Swarm satellites rotate around the Earth at 460 km altitude and have a constant orbital plane separation of ~ 1.4 deg. in latitude. The upper satellite rotates at around 510 km altitude and its orbital plane changes slowly toward a 90 deg. relative separation in latitude. Credit to http://sci.esa.int/
The VALS validation tasks are complementing the activities carried out within the project ALEOS, (financialy supported through STAR programe) that concentrates on the scientific exploitation of Swarm data.
The project team is formed by Dr. Adrian Blagau (Principal Investigator), Dr. Octav Marghitu, Dr. Dragos Constantinescu, Dr. Horia Comisel, Dr. Ciobanu Mircea, Costel Bunescu and Tordai Gavril
The project is carried out at the Space Plasma and Magnetometry Group from the Institute of Space Sciences (GPSM/ISS), Bucharest - Magurele.