The Earth's Magnetic Field, Snow, and Chernobyl

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This podcast from the Planet Earth Online collection and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) looks at how scientists plan to measure the Earth's magnetic field from space, why one researcher is in the frozen town of Churchill in northern Canada, and how the Chernobyl disaster still affects Northern Ireland 25 years on. 

In 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) plans to send not just one but three satellites into space at once, on a mission to measure the Earth's magnetic field. The hope is that measurements from the satellite will tell scientists about ocean circulation, the Earth's climate, and how rocks contribute to the Earth's magnetic field. One of the most challenging parts of the mission is designing the satellites to do this very precise job.

Sue Nelson visits the Andromeda clean room at the satellite manufacturer Astrium's Stevenage site to find out more. We also hear from Mel Sandells from the National Centre for Earth Observation, who is in Churchill in northern Canada to study snow. Measuring how much snow there is on the planet is important for understanding exactly where the Earth's water resources are. The ultimate aim is to measure snow depth and mass from satellites in space.

Finally, Richard Hollingham finds out how fallout from Chernobyl still affects soils across Northern Ireland. A transcript of the recording is provided to assist those who find text-based content more accessible than audio.

This podcast is dated 6 April 2011. NERC is a part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) partnership of research councils.

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