Space-based, high-precision magnetometry is essential for understanding a variety of phenomena ranging from secular variation of the Earth's main field, through the signatures of crustal magnetism and the effects of plasma currents flowing externally to the Earth. Ørsted, Denmark's first satellite, was launched on February 23, 1999 into a polar, low-Earth orbit to provide the first near-global set of high-precision geomagnetic observations since the Magsat mission of 1979–1980 (see Magsat Special Issue of Geophysical Research Letters., vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 239–379, 1982). With the new mapping of the Earth's magnetic field, the International Geomagnetic Reference Field model (IGRF), a standard model used for navigation, prospecting, and other practical purposes, has been determined with improved precision for epoch 2000 [Olsen et al., 2000a; Mandea and Langlais, 2000]. The satellite has routinely provided high-precision vector data since August 1999, and the mission is continuing well beyond its nominal 14-month lifetime into 2001.
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