NASA to investigate magnetic explosions

NASA to investigate magnetic explosions
A cartoon model of magnetic reconnection on the sun.

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. In the cores of galaxies, magnetic reconnection sparks explosions visible billions of light-years away. On the sun, it causes solar flares as powerful as a million atomic bombs. At Earth, it powers magnetic storms and auroras. It's ubiquitous.

The problem is, researchers can't explain it.

The basics are clear enough. Magnetic lines of force cross, cancel, reconnect and—Bang! Magnetic energy is unleashed, with charged-particles flying off near the speed of light. But how? How does the simple act of crisscrossing trigger such a ferocious explosion?

"Something very interesting and fundamental is going on that we don't fully understand," says Jim Burch of the Southwest Research Institute.

NASA is about to launch a mission to get to the bottom of the mystery. It's called MMS, short for "Magnetospheric Multiscale" and it consists of four spacecraft that will fly through Earth's magnetic field, or "magnetosphere," to study reconnection in action.

"Earth's magnetosphere is a wonderful natural laboratory for studying this phenomenon," says Burch, the MMS Principal Investigator.

Slated for launch on March 12th, the four spacecraft were designed, built and tested at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Each one is shaped like a giant hockey puck, about 4 meters in diameter and 1 meter in height. In space, however, they are much larger.

"After launch, the spinning spacecraft will unfurl their electromagnetic sensors, which are at the end of wire booms as much as 60 meters long," says Craig Tooley, MMS Project Manager at Goddard. "When fully extended, the sensors are as wide as a baseball field."

These sprawling, spinning probes will fly in precise formation, as close as 10 km apart and are guided by GPS satellites orbiting Earth far below them. "We can maintain formation with an accuracy of only 100 meters," says Tooley. "This is crucial to our measurements."

Any new physics MMS observes could help provide clean energy on Earth.

"For many years, researchers have looked to fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for our planet," says Burch. "One approach, , has yielded very promising results with devices such as tokamaks. But there have been problems keeping the plasma contained in the chamber."

"One of the main problems is ," he continues. "A spectacular result of reconnection is known as the 'sawtooth crash.' As heat in the tokamak builds up, the electron temperature reaches a peak, then 'crashes' to a lower value. Some of the hot plasma escapes. This is caused by reconnection of the containment field."

In light of this, you might suppose that fusion chambers would be a good place to study reconnection. But no, says Burch. Reconnection in tokamaks happens in a tiny volume only a few centimeters wide. It is practically impossible to build sensors small enough to probe the reconnection zone.

Earth's magnetosphere is much better. In the expansive magnetic bubble that surrounds our planet, the process plays out over volumes as large as tens of kilometers across, for instance, when reconnection at the sun propels plasma clouds toward Earth, where additional reconnection events then sparks auroras.

"We can fly spacecraft in and around it and get a good look at what's going on," he says.

That is what MMS will do: fly directly into the reconnection zone. The spacecraft are sturdy enough to withstand the energetics of reconnection events known to occur in Earth's magnetosphere, so there is nothing standing in the way of a full two-year mission of discovery.


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Magnetospheric multiscale spacecraft poised for launch

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Mar 11, 2015
"Magnetic reconnection is (and will always be) pseudoscience" Hannes Alfven

Mar 11, 2015
cantdrive85 seems to suffer from idolotry with
"Magnetic reconnection is (and will always be) pseudoscience" Hannes Alfven
I asked U before how planets could be in orbit despite the magnetic field between those planets & effect from their star as negligible and u replied to the effect the magnetic fields were 'in balance' but, that is as far as you went & pretty feeble !

Given most planetary orbits are elliptic then therefore their magnetic fields must be ellipsoidal then therefore the interactions of those field must be immensely chaotic then therefore how could they ever be in 'balance' except for a few moments because otherwise the fields are stretched & compressed as orbits demand their fields to interact. ?

Add to this the Sun's heliospheric magnetic field with immense perturbation, then how pray tell could there ever be balance from EM which demands polarisation ?

Other than non-polarised immensely prevalent gravitation, what else is there please ?

Z99
Mar 11, 2015
"Given most planetary orbits are elliptic then therefore their magnetic fields must be ellipsoidal .." you lost me. You are claiming that the shape (to first or second order) of a planet's magnetic field is (significantly) effected by its orbit?? Wow. That seems preposterous to me, but hey I've not worked the problem. Just out of curiosity, what is the magnitude of force between two dipole (to keep it simple) magnets separated by billions of miles, do you suppose? Have you done the math? Also: you DO understand, I hope, that the eccentricity of the orbits of most of the planets is quite small? Just checking...

Mar 11, 2015
I wonder if what we are looking at here is rifting time and space?

Mar 11, 2015
I wonder if what we are looking at here is rifting time and space?


@ Kate-Skippette. Is that the sort of thing you wonder about a lot Chere? Maybe you and the Joe-Chung-Skippy could get together and write a scientifical paper for the physorg.

Oh yeah, I almost forget. But if you do get together to wonder together about something like you are wondering up there and writing together about something you got to be ready for some ugly languages because he has the foul mouth even when he is writing on the physorg. But other than that you seem to be on the same page.

Mar 11, 2015
@Uncle Ira

Fortunately Joe-Chung-Skippy has been banned.

Mar 12, 2015
One has to love NASA's MMS experiment. It's very attractive, difficult to imagine anyone finding it repulsive. Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) is an interesting and exciting field filled with Alfven waves and velocities and perhaps a hint for solving turbulence problems. Turbulence may be turbulence whether in a fluid metal, a gas or in a vacuum, it may have a common regime and mathematical root.
Alfven-Klien cosmology has it's detractors but it still may yet be part of the unified cosmological equation.
MMS's data may with some extrapolation, lead to a greater understanding of galactic current sheet models.
Then there are the MHD propulsion systems which with some tinkering may someday propel an unmanned craft capable of catching up to Voyager I in a couple of days.
Usually very negative, finding myself inexplicably drawn to this research. Must be something positive about it.

Mar 12, 2015
"Given most planetary orbits are elliptic then therefore their magnetic fields must be ellipsoidal .." you lost me
Ooops my slip, meant to say to effect of they trace an ellipsoidal path...

My contention is cantdrive85's claim its EM balancing which maintains planetary orbits. I maintain its gravity.

Issue with the ellipsoidal aspect is a 'loss leader' :-) for cantrdrive85 to see if he can offer an explanation as to, from his hypothesis re EM, that the planetary orbits with interaction with each other according to the paths they sweep somehow WONT result in any effect noticeable in perturbation re motion - ie earthquakes or other actual evidence & the like.

I happily accept EM is ~10^39 times more powerful than G but, EM dipoles, tend to sum locally, and despite Sol's heliospheric & its main field there just isnt enough energy from Sol's EM changes to affect earth's orbit by any measurable amount I can see.

If someone can show there is, great, awaiting ?

Mar 12, 2015
Are there really 'lines' of force? Is the only evidence of actual 'lines' of magnetic force the classic magnet and filings thing? I'm pretty sure the lines in that experiment are more a function of the filings then magnetic lines because the iron particles become magnets and themselves have a magnetic field so they group in the line formation.

Mar 12, 2015
Sub; Alfven's Quest-space Cosmology vedas interlinks-Universe-Cosmos
http://Vidyardhic...pot.com/
Plasma regulated Electromagnetic Phenomena in Magnetic Field Environment-at the Galactic plane
From Sun to Milkyway-see Books Available
SPACE VISION-OM-COSMOLOGICAL INDEX-By Vidyardhi Nanduri-TXU 1-731-970
SPACE SCIENCE-Reports Cover [ESA]-2010
Environment-Sensex-Earth-Glow-Sun Life-Significance
HUMAN BEING IN-DEPTH-Milkyway Sensex-ADITYA LINKS
1.ENVIRONMENT SENSEX-EARTH'S GLOW-SUN-LIFE SIGNIFICANCE
VIDYARDHI NANDURI...PPT-27
2.SUN TO ADITYA-COSMOLOGY VEDAS INTERLINKS ..PPT-27
3.COSMOLOGICAL INDEX-MILKYWAY SENSEX-VISIBLE -INVISIBLE MATRIX
By VIDYARDI NANDURI 2010 ..PPT-33

Mar 12, 2015
@Uncle Ira

Fortunately Joe-Chung-Skippy has been banned.


He should get a prize for that. It's hard to get the boot from here and that was some kind of record.

Mar 12, 2015
Are there really 'lines' of force?

The correct way to visualize it are fields (surfaces of equal potential). Field lines are good for visualizing force direction but have the problem that you sometimes need to start off new lines out of nowhere (or let them end in nowhere) if you want to keep their density as a representation of the field strength.

As for the article:
Magnetic reconnection could be the Universe's favorite way to make things explode.

I dunno. Supernova explosions do seem a fair bit more energetic.

He should get a prize for that. It's hard to get the boot from here and that was some kind of record.

I'm putting money down that he'll be back under another name. His kind (as evinced by our local boot-record holders like Zeph, Ghost et al.) never learn.

Mar 21, 2015
Are there really 'lines' of force? Is the only evidence of actual 'lines' of magnetic force the classic magnet and filings thing? I'm pretty sure the lines in that experiment are more a function of the filings then magnetic lines because the iron particles become magnets and themselves have a magnetic field so they group in the line formation.
@Moebius
this may help
https://en.wikipe...eld_line
http://www.pppl.g...nnection
http://micro.magn...dex.html

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