Sun  ID: 4639

MMS Sees a New Type of Reconnection

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission consists of four identical satellites that traverse various regions of Earth's magnetosphere measuring the particles and electric and magnetic field which influence them.

In the turbulent plasma between Earth's magnetopause and bow shock, a region called the magnetosheath, the MMS satellite constellation has measured multiple jets of energetic electrons between magnetic bubbles. This appears to be a new 'flavor' of magnetic reconnection based on electrons and occuring on smaller time and spatial scales than the standard model of magnetic reconnection with ions.

In these data visualizations, the arrows represent the data collected by the spacecraft. To better comprehend changes as the spacecraft moves along, the data are allowed to 'echo' along the spacecraft trail. The length of the vectors represent the relative magnitude of the vector. However, the electron and proton vectors are scaled so equal velocities correspond to vectors of equal magnitude.

  • Magenta represents the direction and magnitude of the magnetic field at the spacecraft position.
  • Green represents the direction and magnitude of the net electric current created by the motion of the electrons and ions measured at the spacecraft position.

The four MMS spacecraft are represented by colored spheres, corresponding to the plotted data lines in the lower graphic
  • MMS1
  • MMS2
  • MMS3
  • MMS4

The clocks on MMS are synchronized for the TAI (International Atomic Time) system provided through the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. It provides a high-precision time reference for comparing MMS measurements to other datasets.

Used Elsewhere In


Visualization Credits

Tom Bridgman (GST): Lead Visualizer
Tai Phan (University of California, Berkeley): Lead Scientist
Joy Ng (USRA): Lead Producer
Mara Johnson-Groh (Wyle Information Systems): Lead Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

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Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS)

Data Used:
MMS/FIELDS 2016-12-09T08:58:54 - 2016-12-09T09:05:00
MMS/Fast Plasma Investigation 2016-12-09T08:58:54 - 2016-12-09T09:05:00
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

SVS >> Geomagnetic Field
SVS >> Magnetic Reconnection
SVS >> Plasma
GCMD >> Location >> Magnetosphere (other)
GCMD >> Location >> Bow Shock
GCMD >> Location >> Magnetopause
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Sun

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version