Washington: NASA launched four identical spacecraft recently on a billion-dollar mission to study the explosive give-and-take between the magnetic fields of Earth and the Sun .
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft onboard was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41.
Following a successful launch, NASA's four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are positioned in Earth's orbit to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process was thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.
After reaching orbit, each spacecraft deployed from the rocket's upper stage sequentially, in five-minute increments.
The mission would provide the first three-dimensional views of reconnection occurring in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. Magnetic reconnection occurs when magnetic fields connect, disconnect, and reconfigure explosively, releasing bursts of energy that can reach the order of billions of megatons of trinitrotoluene (commonly known as TNT). These explosions could send particles surging through space near the speed of light.
Scientists expect the mission would not only help them better understand magnetic reconnection, but also would provide insight into these powerful events, which could disrupt modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.