Science News

Atlas 5 Rocket Launches In NASA’s $1.1 Billion Magnetic Reconnection Study

Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission

NASA launched an Atlas 5 rocket carrying four magnetic explosion probes on Thursday night as part of their $1.1 billion Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) which aims to investigate what Space Flight Now refers to as a universal force of nature: the Earth’s magnetosphere.

The successful launch, which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported via a press release, occurred at 11:44 p.m. (ET) on March 12, 2015. The launch took place at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.

The four MMS spacecraft are now positioned in Earth’s orbit, ready to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of the phenomenon known as the magnetic reconnection.

Magnetic reconnection is a process believed to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system. The phenomenon occurs when magnetic fields connect, disconnect, and then reconfigure in an explosive fashion which releases bursts of energy capable of reaching the order of billions of megatons of TNT.

Craig Tooley, project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, was quoted in the release as having said that the MMS team is “thrilled” to see that all four of the spacecrafts have been deployed” with the last separation having taken place at 12:31 a.m.

I am speaking for the entire MMS team when I say we’re thrilled to see all four of our spacecraft have deployed and data indicates we have a healthy fleet

One of the mission’s objectives is to provide the first three-dimensional images of reconnection occurring within the planet’s magnetosphere.

Jim Burch, the principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team at the Southwest Research Institute, was quoted in the release as having said that the “science team is ready to go to work” after a decade of planning and engineering.

After a decade of planning and engineering, the science team is ready to go to work […] We’ve never had this type of opportunity to study this fundamental process in such detail

In other intriguing NASA missions covered here on Immortal News, scientists shot four rockets into the Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis, in an attempt to study atmospheric turbulence.

Are you excited for what this $1.1 billion mission might unveil to scientists studying the Earth’s magnetosphere?

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