NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission to provide first 3-D view of Earth's magnetic reconnection process

May 15, 2014 by Ken Kremer, Universe Today
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden poses with the agency’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft, mission personnel, Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese and NASA Associate Administrator John Grunsfeld, during visit to the cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on May 12, 2014. Credit: Ken Kremer- kenkremer.com

NASA's upcoming Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is comprised of a quartet of identically instrumented observatories aimed at providing the first three-dimensional views of a fundamental process in nature known as magnetic reconnection. They were unveiled to greet NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Monday, May 12, in a rare fully stacked arrangement inside the Goddard clean room.

Universe Today was on hand with NASA Administrator Bolden, Science Mission Chief John Grunsfeld and the MMS mission team at Goddard for a first hand inspection and up close look at the 20 foot tall, four spacecraft stacked configuration in the cleanroom and for briefings about the projects fundamental science goals.

"I'm visiting with the MMS team today to find out the status of this mission scheduled to launch early in 2015. It's one of many projects here at Goddard," NASA Administrator Bolden told me in an exclusive one-on-one interview at the MMS cleanroom.

"MMS will help us study the phenomena known as and help us understand how energy from the sun – magnetic and otherwise – affects our own life here on Earth. MMS will study what effects that process … and how the magnetosphere protects Earth."

Magnetic reconnection is the process whereby magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect while explosively releasing vast amounts of energy.

MMS measurements should lead to significant improvements in models for yielding better predictions of space weather and thereby the resulting impacts on life of Earth as well as satellite explorers in orbit and the heavens beyond.

The four identical spacecraft – which are still undergoing testing – were stacked in a rarely seen launch arrangement known affectionately as the "IHOP configuration" because they look like a stack of luscious pancakes.

Technicians work on NASA’s 20-foot-tall Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mated quartet of stacked observatories in the cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., on May 12, 2014. Credit: Ken Kremer- kenkremer.com

"They were built in-house here at Goddard and just completed vibration testing," Craig Tooley told me at the MMS cleanroom. Tooley is MMS project manager at NASA Goddard.

MMS will launch atop an Atlas V rocket in March 2015 from Space launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

The vibration testing is a major milestone and is conducted to ensure the spacecraft can withstand the most extreme vibration and dynamic loads they will experience and which occurs during liftoff inside the fairing of the Atlas V booster.

MMS is also another highly valuable NASA science mission (along with MAVEN, LADEE and others) which suffered launch delays and increased costs as a result of the US shutdown last October 2013, Bolden confirmed to Universe Today.

Each of the Earth orbiting spacecraft is outfitted with 25 science sensors to study the microphysics of three fundamental plasma processes: magnetic reconnection, energetic particle acceleration, and turbulence.

Magnetic reconnection occurs throughout our universe

"The primary mission will last two years," Tooley told me.

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission to provide first 3-d view of Earth’s magnetic reconnection process
Artist rendition of the four MMS spacecraft in orbit in Earth’s magnetic field. Credit: NASA

"Each spacecraft carries about 400 kilograms of fuel. There is a possibility to extend the by about a year based on fuel consumption."

The spacecraft will use the Earth itself as a laboratory to unlock the mysteries of magnetic reconnection – the primary process that transfers energy from the solar wind into Earth's magnetosphere and is responsible for geomagnetic storms.

"They will fly in a pyramid-like formation. They will fly in an elliptical orbit and initially be spaced apart by 10 to 30 miles.

The best place to study magnetic reconnection is in situ in Earth's magnetosphere. This will lead to better predictions of space weather phenomena.

Magnetic reconnection is also believed to help trigger the spectacular aurora known as the Northern or Southern lights.

Explore further: NASA's MMS observatories stacked for testing

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User comments : 19

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cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) May 15, 2014
"Magnetic reconnection is (still) pseudoscience..." Alfven

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (7) May 15, 2014
"Magnetic reconnection is (still) pseudoscience..." Alfven
@cant-read
obviously you still cant read or learn.
MAGNETIC RECONNECTION is observed as well as well documented. thanks for showing that you still cant learn even from past mistakes

http://www.univer...-bolden/

http://web.physic...nnection

http://solar-cent...sun.html

http://science.na...aug_mms/

http://www.pppl.g...nnection
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) May 15, 2014
I guess since a huge formalism has arisen around MR that must make it factual, sorta like that which arose around epicycles... Another example would be the "frozen-in" concept, completely falsified by lab experiment yet still used frequently by astrophysicists who don't know their plasma from a hole in their head.

In the 1500's Galileo performed an experiment in front of a group of university students, he dropped two cannon balls of different mass to falsify Aristotle's long held theory of gravity. In direct conflict with Aristotle's theory, the objects landed simultaneously and Galileo was proven correct. The next day at the university Aristotle's theory continued to be taught, for some time after for that matter. Just shows how false knowledge can be formalized and accepted by "scientists".
IMP-9
5 / 5 (8) May 15, 2014
Another example would be the "frozen-in" concept


Has not been falsified because it is not universally applicable, nor was it ever claimed. There are many situations where it is a very good simplification. It's a limit not a law. You again demonstrate utter ignorance of plasma and prefer analogy rather discussing physics.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (5) May 15, 2014
Has not been falsified... You again demonstrate utter ignorance of plasma and prefer analogy rather discussing physics.
Thank you for that IMP-9
I guess since a huge formalism
@cd
and I guess that since you can't argue with empirical data, you instead try the sideways feint? the rest of your post is rather meaningless, as the key words are
1500's Galileo
It is now 2014. We have internet. we have worldwide television coverage. INFORMATION SHARING.
besides, not all "better theories" usurps previous theories completely
case in point: Einstein/relativity & Newtonian physics
WE STILL USE BOTH

If you are going to make a point, make a VALID POINT that is RELEVANT to the subject and to the date
as for this gem
astrophysicists who don't know their plasma from a hole in their head
you've already been proven wrong so many times, I wonder HOW you can continue posting this blatant LIE over and over!
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (8) May 15, 2014
Another example would be the "frozen-in" concept


Has not been falsified because it is not universally applicable, nor was it ever claimed. There are many situations where it is a very good simplification. It's a limit not a law. You again demonstrate utter ignorance of plasma and prefer analogy rather discussing physics.


It was Hannes Alfvén who came up with the concept of "frozen-in" magnetic field lines, but only under certain circumstances (in infinitely conductive magnetized fluid).

He wrote;
I thought that the frozen-in concept was very good from a pedagogical point of view, and indeed it became very popular. In reality, however, it was not a good pedagogical concept but a dangerous "pseudopedagogical concept." By "pseudopedagogical" I mean a concept which makes you believe that you understand a phenomenon whereas in reality you have drastically misunderstood it."


And it continues...
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (6) May 16, 2014
It was Hannes Alfvén who came up with the concept of "frozen-in" magnetic field lines
@cd
it was HA you quoted
"Magnetic reconnection is (still) pseudoscience..." Alfven
that also didnt believe in magnetic reconnection, which is not only OBSERVED, but also tested, recreated and a well known concept, especially in your "coveted" PLASMA physics that you keep lying and saying astrophysicists know nothing about
http://web.physic...nnection

http://www.pppl.g...nnection

apparently, it is you who knows nothing about plasma physics, as your info comes solely/mostly from a known pseudoscience

and quote mining out of date BS from a guy proven wrong only makes you look more ignorant (actually, stupid, as you've been shown already time and again). Were the info relevant, or even ACCURATE, things would be different, but your quotes are not accurate or relevant.

Try the real world
vidyunmaya
2 / 5 (4) May 16, 2014
Plasma Regulated Electromagnetic Phenomena in magnetic Field Environment-see
http://archive.or...osmology
The concepts are evolved to answer queries from space Plasma groups- taking Origins from vedas that interlink dimensional knowledge base.
Magnetic Reconnenction process is obvious-from South end of Milky way to Cosmic Pot Energy of the Universe
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (6) May 16, 2014
Plasma Regulated Electromagnetic Phenomena in magnetic Field Environment-see
http://archive.or...osmology
The concepts are evolved to answer queries from space Plasma groups- taking Origins from vedas that interlink dimensional knowledge base.
Magnetic Reconnenction process is obvious-from South end of Milky way to Cosmic Pot Energy of the Universe

Uh - Bartender - I'll have one of whatever he's drinking....
Maggnus
5 / 5 (5) May 16, 2014
Lol the title says "magnetic" so guess who's here..........
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) May 16, 2014
Lol the title says "magnetic" so guess who's here..........

Mag,
Not that I don't have a certain affection for magnetic theories... He just puts it in such an "out there" phraseology.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2014
Lol the title says "magnetic" so guess who's here..........

Mag,
Not that I don't have a certain affection for magnetic theories... He just puts it in such an "out there" phraseology.

I am struggling with the term "reconnection"... INTERconnection seems more appropo..
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 17, 2014
I am struggling with the term "reconnection"... INTERconnection seems more appropo.. @widening Gyre
if you are being serious, check out this video
https://www.youtu...3s8ODaKg
http://on.aol.com...17865737

as well as the links above... you will understand very quickly why the word reconnection was used...

If you are NOT being serious... forgive me and my analytical mind tonight. I am having difficulties with hyperbole, sarcasm, satire and irony...
PEACE
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2014
I am struggling with the term "reconnection"... INTERconnection seems more appropo..
@widening Gyre
if you are being serious, check out this video
https://www.youtu...3s8ODaKg

Was being serious, Cap'n. Was thinking more of Magnetism in terms of fluidic nature. Kinda like river emptying into ocean and diffusing - but different...:-)
REconnection would be when moisture from the sea collects and moves over land where it drops it back into the river, again...my definition being dependent on the STATE of the medium being observed.
Or something like that....
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) May 17, 2014
Was being serious, Cap'n.
@Wydening Gyre
then watch the video in the two links I posted above your last post.
It SHOULD clarify by watching the lines... that second video really shows it better, I think. Plus there is a veritable abundance of evidence on line that you can google (or you can use https://duckduckgo.com/ if you prefer: plenty of options. )
try using multiple search engines when researching stuff, as other engines may give you different results or in different orders per the algorithms which allows a different perspective

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (2) May 17, 2014
I am struggling with the term "reconnection"... INTERconnection seems more appropo..
@widening Gyre
if you are being serious, check out this video
https://www.youtu...3s8ODaKg

as well as the links above... you will understand very quickly why the word reconnection was used...

If you are NOT being serious... forgive me and my analytical mind tonight. I am having difficulties with hyperbole, sarcasm, satire and irony...
PEACE

There are those "field lines" doing stuff again... The height of pseudoscience even involves NASA!
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2014
There are those "field lines" doing stuff again... The height of pseudoscience even involves NASA!
@cd
I know it is hard for you to understand, so I will use small words.
EMPIRICAL DATA
OBSERVED PHENOMENON
repeated experimentations and analysis with observed phenomenon as well as empirical data shown above in the links means that your EU faith pseudoscience is not only unfounded, but that you cannot comprehend the advancements made in science since the 1970's

just because you cling to a pseudoscience with NO BASIS in reality, doesn't mean science does...

talk to your people about a nice, public live debate aired as well as direct to internet. I will see if I can gather a couple physicists to argue against you.
I would love to even have YOU there too! you can even be a part of the debate if you want, since you are so obviously well versed in your EU.

let me know
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) May 17, 2014
Was being serious, Cap'n.
@Wydening Gyre
then watch the video in the two links I posted above your last post.
It SHOULD clarify by watching the lines... that second video really shows it better, I think.

I did. But I can't help thinking that those lines are more just boundaries of varying magnetic density (field strength?).
I started thinking about this after reading thermo and alche discussion in other thread...
no fate
1 / 5 (1) May 17, 2014
Was thinking more of Magnetism in terms of fluidic nature. Kinda like river emptying into ocean and diffusing - but different...:-)


Good visualization. Everything we see in both of Stumps videos would be like sediment in the fluid. The particles follow the "current" based on potential and charge. You aren't witnessing the "breaking" of the magnetic field in those videos, just currents inside the field. The magnetic field the current generates via it's motion through the base field of flux is what eventually causes the filament to break. As a plasma, you then get to witness the charged particles attracted to their respective points of potential and rejoin the structure at those points. In the prominence they land at the 2 points of opposite potential on the suns surface,in the earth structure they go to the....poles :-)

Sadly, because these interactions manifest as electrical phenomena, it's confusing for some as to the nature of the force driving these events.