Instrument integration begins at Goddard on MMS spacecraft

Jun 08, 2012
An instrument deck for NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission is readied for installation of instruments. Two instruments have already been installed: the white box on the lower right is the Energetic Ion Spectrometer; the black box in the upper right is the Central Instrument Data Processor. Credit: NASA\GSFC\Lambert

(Phys.org) -- The decks have arrived. Engineers working on NASA'S Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission have started integrating instruments on the first of four instrument decks in a newly fabricated cleanroom at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The MMS mission consists of four identical spacecraft, and each instrument deck will have 25 sensors per spacecraft.

"This is the first time NASA has ever built four satellites near simultaneously like this," says Craig Tooley, project manager for MMS at Goddard. "It feels like we're planning a giant game of musical chairs to produce multiple copies of a spacecraft. One instrument deck might be 2/3 finished, while another one is 1/3 finished, and the same people will have to test a nearly complete deck one day, and install large components on another one another day."

MMS will fly the four spacecraft in formation to investigate how the sun's and Earth's magnetic fields connect and disconnect, explosively transferring energy from one to the other -- a process that occurs throughout the universe, known as magnetic reconnection.

Artist's rendition of MMS in orbit. Credit: NASA

By going into space to observe where it is happening, MMS will both study a fundamental physical process that occurs throughout the universe as well as observe one of the ultimate drivers of our , which affects modern technological systems such as communications networks, , and electrical .

Goddard manages the MMS mission and is building the spacecraft in-house on-site in a specially designed cleanroom. Dr. James L. Burch at Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) in San Antonio, Texas is the principal investigator for the MMS . SWRI oversees the entire MMS instrument suite for NASA, with various instruments being built at other institutions, including the Fast Plasma Instrument, which is being built at Goddard.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

16 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

17 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

17 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.