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NASA probe to study magnetic mystery reaches Earth's orbit

NASA probe to study magnetic mystery reaches Earths orbit

Washington: NASA's first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection that drives space weather is positioned in the Earth's orbit following a successful launch on March 12.

NASA launched a fleet of four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft to study magnetic reconnection which is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.

"I am speaking for the entire MMS team when I say we are thrilled to see all four of our spacecraft have deployed and data indicates we have a healthy fleet," said Craig Tooley, project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The spacecraft, positioned one on top of the other on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 421 rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Scientists expect the mission will not only help them to better understand magnetic reconnection, but will also provide insight into these powerful events, which can disrupt modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.

"MMS is a crucial next step in advancing the science of magnetic reconnection - and no mission has ever observed this fundamental process with such detail," Jeff Newmark, interim director for NASA's Heliophysics Division at the agency's headquarters in Washington, pointed out.

By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, scientists can understand the process elsewhere, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, NASA added.

Over the next several weeks, NASA scientists and engineers will deploy booms and antennas on the spacecraft, and test all instruments. The observatories will later be placed into a pyramid formation in preparation for science observations, which are expected to begin in early September.

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