Three European spacecraft will launch from northern Russia presently on a mission to make the most comprehensive global maps yet of Earth's magnetic field. Known as Swarm, the trio of satellites should help scientists comprehend better how the field is generated, and why it appears to be weakening.
The European Space Agency mission is going up from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on a customized intercontinental ballistic projectile. Lift-off is timed for 12:02 GMT. The satellites are expected to split from the Breeze upper-stage of their Rocket launcher some 91 minutes later, at an elevation of 490km. A period of commissioning and testing will then follow before the Swarm starts their four-year measurement campaign.