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Title: Investigation of geomagnetic reference models based on the Iridium$$^{\circledR }$$ constellation

The World Magnetic Model (WMM) is a geomagnetic main field model that is widely used for navigation by governments, industry and the general public. In recent years, the model has been derived using high accuracy magnetometer data from the Swarm mission. This study explores the possibility of developing future WMMs in the post-Swarm era using data from the Iridium satellite constellation. Iridium magnetometers are primarily used for attitude control, so they are not designed to produce the same level of accuracy as magnetic data from scientific missions. Iridium magnetometer errors range from 30 nT quantization to hundreds of nT errors due to spacecraft contamination and calibration uncertainty, whereas Swarm measurements are accurate to about 1 nT. The calibration uncertainty in the Iridium measurements is identified as a major error source, and a method is developed to calibrate the spacecraft measurements using data from a subset of the INTERMAGNET observatory network producing quasi-definitive data on a regular basis. After calibration, the Iridium data produced main field models with approximately 20 nT average error and 40 nT maximum error as compared to the CHAOS-7.2 model. For many scientific and precision navigation applications, highly accurate Swarm-like measurements are still necessary, however, the more » Iridium-based models were shown to meet the WMM error tolerances, indicating that Iridium is a viable data source for future WMMs.

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Earth, Planets and Space
Springer Science + Business Media
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National Science Foundation
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