Let's start saying that it is not really clear what is the purpose of this app.
Is it just a game? It has a real educational intent or just an informative one?
Obviously it is meant to support ESA Swarm mission but let's go through the details to get a better understanding.
One of the main feauture of this product is a direct access to the #Swarmcampaign blog and socials even though it is not clear why the user needs an app for that. You can have an easy access to ESA blogs and socials from any device, included the one that you are playing with!
The main idea behind that choice seems to be an "all in one product" : a game (you control a steel ball across a labyrinth by heading at the compass needle), all the available information about #swarmcampaign in a click and a very nice layout feature (not immediately graspable) about getting an idea of scaled-dimensions and position of the satellites relative to the Earth's inner structure.
What about the game? Can you handle true north? Try it! It will take you a few minutes to figure out how. But, what comes next? Is that it?
Another non-trivial issue and not for the sake of criticism by itself is the overall aestethics. The app, at a first glance, lacks of beauty.
Of course any product in the end is a compromise (costs, oppotunities, tools availability). No contest on that. We'll see, in the near future, if the users enjoy it and their reviews.
As for us, what is surprising is that this app have been released by this time, while, given the huge potential of our technological capabilities, a big shift is happening in education and science dissemination.
A set of three engaging presentations has been recently released by ESA: an introduction to the Earth's magnetic field, why the magnetic field matters and Swarm satellites.
Definitely good educational resources!
The three Swarm mission satellites, namely Swarm A,B and C, follow a near-polar orbit.
Swarm A and B are circling the Earth side-by-side at an altitude of 450 km (LEO) decaying naturally to 300 km during the four years mission, while Swarm C orbit at an altitude of 530 Km (LEO).
This unique configuration enables a quicker sampling of the Earth and allows measurements that help us to distinguish between the effect of different source of magnetism.
Copyright: European Space Agency (ESA)
SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) was launched on November 2, 2009. This satellite is able to measure soil moisture and ocean salinity globally. SMOS has mapped Earth’s wet and dry soils, helping us to understand the water cycle and supporting water resource management. Global ocean salinity data from SMOS has given us new insight into how rivers and runoff from land are dispersed by ocean currents. Surpassing expectations, SMOS data are also being used to monitor Arctic sea ice extent and thickness, providing daily coverage of the Arctic Ocean. In addition, the satellite can track hurricanes, such as last year’s Hurricane Sandy that devastated parts of the US east coast.
The map, generated using SMOS data, shows the soil moisture values across central Europe on 31 May and 2 June 2013. The blues indicate wetter soils and the yellow and orange colours indicate dryer soils. For example, a value of 0.50 means that there is 500 litres of water in one cubic metre of soil. Heavy rainfall has led to disastrous flooding in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Replay of the Swarm liftoff on a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia at 12:02 GMT (13:02 CET) on 22 November 2013.
The three-satellite Swarm mission aims to provide new information on the sources of the magnetic fieldinside Earth. This includes understanding how the magnetic field is related to the motion of molten iron in the outer core, how the conductivity of the mantle is related to its composition and how the crust has been magnetised over geological timescales.
It will also investigate how the magnetic field relates to Earth’s environment through the radiation beltsand their near-Earth effects, including the solar wind energy input into the upper atmosphere.
This application is a remarkable tool for education, scientists and general public to get an insight into what the CryoSat mission is about.
The mission is described through a variety of materials (text, images, photos, videos and news). The content specific toolbar allows access to different supporting archives, the ESA Media Library and YouTube.
It provides information on the current satellite position relatively to the Earth and the user current geographical location.
The application allows also interactive inspection of the CryoSat 3D model, zooming in and out to highlight details. By selecting any of the sensors on the satellite payload, the user can display detailed technical characteristics.
Moreover it is possible to download selected satellite's products or get information on the altimetric data.
After 4 years and 8 months orbiting Earth, the GOCE mission came to an end on 11 November 2013.
CryoSat follows a low-Earth orbit (LEO), non Sun-synchronous, at an altitude of 717 Km above the Earth's surface.
GOCE follows a near-circular path at an altitude of about 224 km (low-Earth orbit*).
ORBIT: Sun-synchronous, dawn-dusk
In a Sun-synchronous orbit the satellite, as it travels from the North to the South Pole, passes over the same part of the Earth at roughly the same local time every day.
A dawn-dusk orbit is a special case of Sun-synchronous orbit that allows a satellite to be permanently bathed in sunlight.
The satellite perpetually trails the shadow of the Earth cast by the Sun. Because the satellite is close to the shadow, the part of the Earth's surface directly below the satellite is always at sunset or sunrise, hence the name of this type of orbit. An advantage of it is that the satellite always has its solar panels bathed in sunlight so that it can produce power by this means continuously (Encyclopedia of science).
*Low-Earth orbit (LEO)-altitude range from 160 to 2000 km above the Earth's surface.