NASA Administrator and Media to See MMS Mission Progress
Released on May 12, 2014
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had a firsthand look at work being done on the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft during a visit to the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Monday, May 12, 2014.
Bolden visited Goddard's Integration and Test Facility where the four MMS spacecraft are undergoing testing. The spacecraft were in a rare four-stack arrangement inside a clean room after completing vibration testing. The clean room itself was temporarily altered to allow a close-up view of the approximate 20-foot high collection of four observatories in their launch configuration.
In addition to Bolden, MMS project personnel were available to answer questions about the mission, ground testing and preps for launch.
During its two-year mission, MMS will explore the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy — a process known as magnetic reconnection. The four MMS spacecraft will provide the first three-dimensional views of this fundamental process that occurs throughout our universe.
Scientist John Dorelli explains the MMS mission's orbit and why the four spacecraft fly in a tetrahedron formation.
On its journey, MMS will observe a little-understood, but universal phenomenon called magnetic reconnection, responsible for dramatic re-shaping of the magnetic environment near Earth, often sending intense amounts of energy and fast-moving particles off in a new direction. Not only is this a fundamental physical process that occurs throughout the universe, it is also one of the drivers of space weather events at Earth. To truly understanding the process, requires four identical spacecraft to track how such reconnection events move across and through any given space in 3D.