My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: @NASA 's Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft - How the Sun's Magnetic Field influences the Earth's Weather

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

@NASA 's Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft - How the Sun's Magnetic Field influences the Earth's Weather

“We're not setting out here to solve space weather. We're setting out to learn the fundamental features of magnetic reconnection because that's what drives space weather”

Principal investigator Jim Burch from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio commenting on NASA’ MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft) mission

NASA, in a bid to get clear picture of our earth's Magnetosphere, has gone into the Stratosphere and beyond.

On Friday March 13th 2015 NASA launched the US$1.1 billion mission MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft) to study the interaction between the Earth's Magnetic Field and the Sun's Magnetic Field as reported in the article “NASA launches four Spacecraft to solve magnetic mystery”, published Mar 13, 2015 by Marcia Dunn, Physorg

The four (4) satellites were carried aloft on an unmanned Atlas-Centaur rocket in a picture perfect launch as shown below.

The MMS will assume oblong orbits in the magnetosphere and are to fly in a tetrahedral pyramid formation separated by distances of 10 km (6 miles) to 402 km (250 miles) apart as noted in the article “NASA spacecraft in Earth's orbit, preparing to study magnetic reconnection”, published March 13, 2015,

This so that they can capture a 3D view of the Magnetic field interaction between the Sun and the Earth with the highest resolution possible, which the NASA scientists refer to as Magnetic Reconnection. The MMS is on a two (2) year mission with the purpose of helping scientists better understand Magnetic Reconnection and how it affects Space Weather.

The mission objectives of the MMS are very similar to that of the three (3) Swarm Satellites that were launched by the ESA (European Space Agency) in November 2013.

The three (3) Swarm Satellites mission is to collect Magnetic field strengths for the Earth's Magnetosphere as described in my blog article entitled “ESA's Swarm Says the Earth's Magnetic Field is Weakening - How Weakening Magnetic Field results in hotter Summer Days and Hurricanes in Christmas 2014”.

So what exactly is Magnetic Reconnection? And why is it important to the Earth's Weather?

NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft - How the Sun's Magnetic Personality influences the Earth's Weather

Magnetic Reconnection is the interaction of the Earth and the Sun's Magnetic Field in such a manner that they momentarily attract and then repel each other, as per Lenz's Law, with Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) being the result as explained in the video below.

This interaction between the Sun's Magnetic field and the Earth Magnetic field is what funnels the charged particles ejected from the Solar Flares towards to North and South Poles, creating the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis respectively.

Magnetic Reconnection is also the same phenomenon that was used by team of scientists led by Joachim Saur of the University of Cologne in Germany  to deduce that Jupiter's moon Ganymede has a subterranean salty ocean as explained in my blog article entitled “University of Cologne use Ganymede’s Aurora to find Underground Salty Ocean – How Lenz’s Law causes rocking Aurora from Diamagnetic Salt Water”.

This process drives the respective aurora and charged particle storms that can disrupt Transmission lines and Telecommunications Satellites and systems on the Earth. 

NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale Spacecraft - Specs of the Tetrahedral Satellite Constellation with an Electron-scale Resolution

The four (4) MMS resemble a toroidal or donut shape but made in an octagonal shape with a distance across the flats of 3.35 m (11 feet) and a height of 1.22 m (4 feet). They’re really heavy too, weighing 1,360.79 kg (3,000 lb) apiece and during launch, they were arranged in much the same way one would stack used Tyres.

Due to their combined weight of 5443.16 kg (12,000 lb), the Atlas-Centaur rocket was needed to lift this heavy payload into orbit. After it reached its designated trajectory, each of the MMS was separated from the launch bay roughly an hour after launch, with each MMS being separated from the Atlas-Centaur rocket in five (5) minute intervals.

Within a few days, the booms on these Spacecraft will be extended, making the total surface area of each of the MMS is as large as a baseball field.

After a five (5) month check out of each of the MMS one hundred  (100) or so sensors, the gathering of data relating to the interaction of the Sun and the Earth's Magnetic Field will begin in the Summer of 2015. These measurements will be of an electron-level resolution, much higher than previous heliophysics missions.

So, have anything exciting doing this summer? Why not keep tabs on NASA's MMS Mission to learn more about Space Weather, Aurora Borealis, Aurora Australis and the other phenomenon that occur when Magnetic Personalities collide.

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