NASA's MMS team assembles final observatory

May 30, 2013
Magnetospheric Multiscale mission integration and test team members, seen here in white clean-room suits, integrate the fourth and final instrument deck onto the spacecraft deck/thrust tube assembly, which houses the propulsion module, officially making it an observatory. This clean room was designed and built for MMS to house all four spacecraft at once: Two additional observatories appear in the background. Credit: NASA

On May 20, 2013, the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reached an unprecedented milestone. The team mated the instrument and spacecraft decks to form the fourth and final MMS observatory. This is the first time Goddard has simultaneously engineered this many observatories, or spacecraft, for a single mission.

"The logistics of building four of the same thing is a new challenge, one that really makes us push the boundaries of how we operate," said Brent Robertson the MMS deputy project manager at Goddard. "These are first generation, new science observatories, and we've built them all at the same time. It's been like a very intense game of musical chairs."

The large Goddard MMS clean room can hold all four spacecraft at once, and a detailed schedule keeps track of how the team is moving from task to task. The MMS team has cause for pride in their work: building four observatories for a single mission, when many don't have the chance to build four in an entire career.

Due to launch in late 2014, MMS will investigate how the sun and Earth's magnetic fields connect and disconnect, explosively transferring energy from one to the other – a fundamental physical process that occurs throughout the universe, known as . Using four will provide MMS with the multipoint measurements needed to determine whether reconnection events occur in an isolated locale, everywhere within a larger region at once, or by traveling across space.

Explore further: Instrument integration begins at Goddard on MMS spacecraft

Related Stories

Instrument integration begins at Goddard on MMS spacecraft

June 8, 2012

(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 ...

NASA mission to study magnetic explosions passes major review

September 5, 2012

(Phys.org)β€”On August 31, 2012 , NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission proved it was ready for its next steps by passing what's called a Systems Integration Review (SIR), which deems a mission ready to integrate ...

NASA's Magnetospheric Mission Passes Major Milestone

September 6, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The universe is still an arcane place that scientists know very little about, but a new NASA Solar Terrestrial Probe mission is going to shed light on one especially mysterious event called magnetic reconnection. ...

Honey, I Blew up the Tokamak

August 31, 2009

Magnetic reconnection could be the Universe's favorite way to make things explode. It operates anywhere magnetic fields pervade space--which is to say almost everywhere. On the sun magnetic reconnection causes solar flares ...

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)β€”A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.