Transcripts of G2014-103 MMS Mission OverviewMASTER

music music music Tom Moore: Magnetic reconnection is the process of disconnecting or connecting the magnetic fields to each other, directing energy into the Earth on the dayside and then letting it go on the nightside. The interplay between the 2 is what produces all the space weather around the Earth that has big effects, can damage our spacecraft, can hurt astronauts, can upset the flow of electrical energy in our electric grid on the surface of the Earth. MMS is a mission with 4 spacecraft that travel in formation, in an orbit that takes them out into 2 special places near the Earth, one upstream toward the sun, one downstream away from the sun. Both of those place have magnetic reconnection. We have never before MMS had the ability to essentially run the camera fast enough to catch it as it goes by, to make many measurements per second. The science payload for MMS is all mounted on a single deck plate. It consists of some 25 boxes per spacecraft, divided into 3 general groups of instruments. That's those measuring fields (electric and magnetic), those for measuring plasmas, and a third for measuring energetic particles. The magnetic field sensors are out on arms that extend away from the spacecraft. They are fixed, but the spacecraft is spinning slowly, about once every 20 seconds. The electric field is quite a bit different. It consists of 4 wires that extend out away from the spacecraft with a ball out on the end of each of them. that actually contacts the plasma. All 4 of those are spinning around with the spacecraft with this 20 second period. And then there's a third axis, there's booms that extend along the spin axis of the spacecraft, both upward and downward with the probe at the end. So you've got 3 components of the electric field. They can measure everything from up to small wiggles and vibrations of the electric field. Another sensor is called the search coil magnetometer is just a loop of wire connected to a suitable amplifier, and it is designed to measure the fluctuations at higher frequencies than you could get with the DC magnetometers. For the plasmas 8 boxes, 2 boxes at each of the 4 points of the compass on the spacecraft. Those are equally spaced all around the spacecraft. That is a real key ingredient for being able to see the entire sky instantaneously, without waiting for the spacecraft to spin Then there is also the hot plasma composition analyzer 1 per spacecraft. It has sensor head that looks all around in a 360 degree annulus that sticks out the side of the spacecraft and sweeps out the whole sky twice per spin. It measures the chemical species of the particles. Next are the accelerated particle analyzers that are measuring much more energetic particles that are accelerated by the reconnection process. Ultimately, what we will be doing is comparing our observations with simulations of the entire magnetoshere as it is influenced with the solar wind coming in, down to the details of what reconnection is occurring. People who do those simulations try to apply them to all other kinds of places, like in the solar atmosphere and other astrophysical stars and other objects. They are very interested in whether those simulations are accurate and reflect reality well This is going to be the first time we actually bump them up against hard data of what's going in there. I am almost certain, I'm very certain, they are gonna learn something from that and the simulations will get better. We are going to measure things at rates that have never been done before, in places that have been hard to reach and even see, because they go by to fast so, it's going to be fantastic. beeping