Atlas 5 set to launch Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

Posted: March 9, 2015 by Andrew in solar system dynamics
Image credit: Spaceflight now

Image credit: Spaceflight Now

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) – a stack of four identical satellites sat atop the Atlas 5 rocket, is set for launch this Thursday.

The four satellite will examine the Earth’s magnetosphere, one of its missions is to study the microphysics of magnetic reconnection, where magnetic fields connect and disconnect explosively.

Spaceflight Now reports Details of the launch and missions.

MMS mission overview (YouTube)

Comments
  1. craigm350 says:

    Reblogged this on CraigM350 and commented:
    Fingers crossed the launch comes off unscathed. This could provide some really interesting data with our quiet sun.

  2. craigm350 says:

    Thank you Andrew.

    Surprised no comments. This will be very interesting to follow as the reconnection events drive space weather.

    From the article (my emphasis) –

    A $1.1 billion science investigation involving four formation-flying satellites circling the Earth, each one identical, fitted with 25-instrument sensors and measuring 94 feet tall by 369 feet wide when fully deployed, will share a single Atlas 5 rocket launch Thursday night from Cape Canaveral to probe explosions in the magnetic field with millisecond speed.
    […]
    The project is known as the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, with the spacecraft operating in a tetrahedron formation to fly through explosive connections and disconnections of the magnetic field lines above Earth, events that explosively convert magnetic energy into particle energy.

    There are a lot of models about reconnection and they all make certain assumptions because we don’t really know what’s happening,” said Jim Burch, principal investigator of the MMS instrument suite.

    “The measurements we are making are such fine-scale that there won’t have to be another mission after this.” [overconfident?]

    A veteran of other missions, Burch predicts MMS will be the greatest one yet.

    “MMS is the best one and the hardest one because it’ll be a final result on an important phenomena — not just learning more, but solving the problem.”

    “The reason this is important is these explosions drive a lot of the weather patterns that we see in the magnetosphere, what space scientists call space weather,” said John Dorelli, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where MMS was built.

    “These space weather phenomena can have impacts on our every day lives. It can actually affect communications satellites, the power grid. So we would really like to understand how these magnetic explosions work.”

  3. Gerry Pease says:

    NASA made a nicely illustrated 4 minute MMS video – watch in full screen mode: