NASA (US) scientific satellite (1979–1980) made the first precise, globally distributed measurements of the vector magnetic field near Earth. The satellite flew at an altitude of 300–550 km, in a near‐polar inclination. Researchers modeling the Magsat data have developed representations of the internal field extending from spherical harmonic (q.v.) 1–36 for the vector field (Lowe et al., 2001), with additional resolution to 65 for the scalar field (Sabaka et al., 2004). Magsat also contributed significantly to the understanding of the ionospheric magnetic field, and the meridional current systems through which the satellite flew. The most demanding aspect of making vector magnetic measurements from space is in precise alignment, which must be at the arc‐second level. Magnetic field measurements have been made from near‐Earth space since 1958, when Sputnik 3 (USSR) collected fluxgate magnetometer measurements of the field with accuracies of about 100 nT. Magsat's measurements of the...
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