scientists are journeying to the centre of
the Earth, in the biggest international collaboration
to study the Earths core. Their findings
will help us understand other planets in the
solar system, tell us more about how the Earth
was formed, and how its likely to change
in the future.
Lead researcher, Professor David Gubbins said:
Everything about our planet is driven
by the fact the Earth is cooling very slowly:
ten degrees every thousand million years.
We know that movements in the liquid outer
core create our magnetic field, which protects
the Earth from cosmic rays. But the core is
the only bit of the Earth we still dont
fully understand. Nor do we know why some
planets in our solar system have no magnetic
fields while others do.
The scientists, obviously, cant actually
travel to the place theyre studying
but seismic waves will allow them to see
images of the Earths core. They will
be testing different possible chemical compositions
of the core, looking at the properties of
such mixes and seeing if this fits with data
on the magnetic field provided by satellites.
The team aim to create a computer model of
the dynamo in the Earths
core which is powering its magnetic field.
Professor Gubbins said: Einstein once
said that finding out how the Earths
magnetic field came about was the most difficult
problem in mathematical physics. We know that
Venus and Mars have no magnetic field, unlike
other planets in the solar system. Yet Venus
does have a liquid core. We hope our research
will help explain how this is possible.
The University of Leeds is co-ordinating the
NERC funded consortium of UCL and the Universities
of Exeter and Bristol, working with international
collaborators, the University of Hong Kong,
the Tokyo Institute of Technology, SCRIPPS
Institute of Oceanography and Los Alamos National