Scientists have determined that Earth’s magnetic field does a 180 degree shift every 250,000 years or so, but it has been over 700,000 years since the last “pole shift” so some scientists feel we are way past due. When it does happen again, North will become South and every compass on Earth will be 180 degrees out of whack. There are strong indications that this phenomenon is actually starting to happen.
Our magnetosphere is thought to be a byproduct of the spinning molten core of our planet, and it protects us from solar radiation. The Northern and Southern Lights are visual displays of solar radiation being deflected by Earth’s magnetic field. Solar radiation can cause skin cancer and genetic mutations, and without the “magnetic force field” protecting the Earth, our atmosphere would gradually be stripped from our planet by the “solar wind”.
It has been suggested that Mars’s lack of surface water and dense atmosphere are the result of a lack of a magnetic field. Mars once had a molten core like Earth, but being a smaller planet with less mass, the molten core of Mars cooled and solidified over millions of years. When Mars lost its magnetic field, its surface water and atmosphere were stripped away by the solar winds, and everything went downhill from there.
Our magnetic field is showing signs of an imminent pole shift (give or take a few hundred years), north will become south, and when it does flip the effects will touch every acre of our globe. Studies show that during the transition phase, solar radiation will increase dramatically, leading to tens of thousands of additional deaths from skin cancer each year. Once the magnetic field is firmly established in its new orientation, its shielding properties will once again protect the Earth from this deadly radiation, but for a quite a few years things will be very strange indeed.
Scientists predict that there will be random patches of “north” almost anywhere on Earth, “Northern Lights” will appear, again, anywhere on Earth. Navigating by compass will become impossible, and there could be a worldwide disruption of radio communications (cell phones too). However, thisprobably won’t happen in my lifetime.
NASA scientists are developing a new project for an in depth study of Earth’s Magnetosphere, and here are the details:
NASA selected the Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) Instrument Suite team led by Dr. James L. Burch of Southwest Research Institute (SRI), San Antonio, to work with the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) MMS Project in mission formulation. The proposed cost of the instrument suite for MMS mission formulation was $140 million.
The MMS mission is scheduled for launch in 2013. The mission will employ four identically instrumented spacecraft to make coordinated high-resolution observations of fundamental plasma physical processes in the Earth’s magnetosphere, the region in space closest to the planet.
“MMS results will directly contribute to understanding the sun and its effects on Earth, the solar system, and the space environment human explorers will experience,” said NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate Ghassem Asrar. “Because the Earth’s magnetosphere is the only accessible laboratory we have in which to study this fundamental astrophysical process, what we learn from MMS will also have broad application to our studies of the universe,” he said. For even more on this project, go here.