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Deutsch: Maxwell / Español: Maxwell / Português: Maxwell / Français: Maxwell / Italiano: Maxwell

Maxwell refers to the unit of magnetic flux in the centimetre-gram-second (CGS) system of units. It is named after James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish physicist known for his foundational work in electromagnetism. In the space industry, the maxwell (Mx) is used to measure and quantify magnetic fields and flux, which are critical in various space applications, including satellite operations, space weather monitoring, and scientific research.


A maxwell is a unit of magnetic flux in the CGS system, equivalent to one line of magnetic flux. It is defined as the magnetic flux through one square centimetre of a perpendicular magnetic field of one gauss. This unit plays a crucial role in the space industry, where understanding and managing magnetic fields is essential.

James Clerk Maxwell's equations, which describe the behavior of electric and magnetic fields, form the theoretical foundation for much of modern electromagnetism and by extension, the space industry. The maxwell unit honours his contributions by providing a measure for magnetic flux, an integral component in the study and application of electromagnetic fields in space.

In the space industry, maxwells are used to:

  • Measure Magnetic Fields: Satellites and space probes often measure magnetic fields to study planetary magnetospheres, solar wind, and cosmic phenomena.
  • Spacecraft Design: Magnetic flux measurements are crucial for designing spacecraft shielding and navigation systems.
  • Space Weather Monitoring: Understanding magnetic flux helps in predicting and mitigating the effects of space weather on satellites and other space infrastructure.

Special Considerations

When dealing with magnetic flux in the space industry, it's important to consider:

  • Magnetic Interference: Spacecraft and instruments must be designed to minimize interference from their own magnetic fields.
  • Calibration: Instruments measuring magnetic flux need precise calibration to ensure accuracy in the harsh space environment.
  • Environmental Impact: Magnetic fields in space can be influenced by solar activity and other cosmic events, requiring continuous monitoring and adjustment.

Application Areas

  1. Planetary Exploration: Measuring magnetic fields of planets and moons to understand their magnetospheres.
  2. Astrophysics Research: Studying magnetic fields in stars, galaxies, and interstellar space.
  3. Satellite Operations: Ensuring proper functioning of satellite systems and mitigating space weather effects.
  4. Space Weather Forecasting: Monitoring and predicting the impact of solar storms and cosmic events on space infrastructure.
  5. Navigation Systems: Utilizing magnetic flux data for precise spacecraft navigation.

Well-Known Examples

  • Magnetometers on Satellites: Devices on satellites like the European Space Agency’s Swarm mission measure Earth's magnetic field using units of maxwell.
  • NASA's Juno Mission: Measures Jupiter's magnetic field to understand its magnetosphere and internal structure.
  • Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO): Studies solar magnetic fields to predict space weather.
  • Voyager Probes: Provided data on magnetic fields in interstellar space, expanding our understanding of the heliosphere.

Treatment and Risks

In the space industry, handling magnetic flux involves:

  • Instrument Sensitivity: Ensuring magnetometers and other instruments are sensitive enough to detect subtle changes in magnetic flux.
  • Data Interpretation: Accurately interpreting magnetic flux data to make informed decisions about spacecraft operations and scientific research.
  • Environmental Factors: Accounting for variations in magnetic flux caused by solar activity and other space phenomena.

Similar Terms

  1. Tesla: The SI unit of magnetic flux density, often used in conjunction with maxwell in scientific research.
  2. Gauss: Another unit of magnetic flux density in the CGS system, directly related to maxwell.
  3. Weber: The SI unit of magnetic flux, where 1 weber equals 10^8 maxwells.


The maxwell is a critical unit of measurement in the space industry for quantifying magnetic flux. Named after the eminent physicist James Clerk Maxwell, it plays a vital role in studying and understanding magnetic fields in space, essential for satellite operations, space weather monitoring, and scientific exploration. The use of maxwells enables precise measurement and management of magnetic phenomena, ensuring the success of various space missions and research initiatives.


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