By Raphael Rosen, Printeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, a set of four spacecraft that will study the magnetic fields surrounding Earth, may employ data provided by Printeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which operates the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), the world’s leading laboratory facility for studying reconnection. Results of the MRX research could elucidate the space probes' findings, said Masaaki Yamada, principal investigator of the MRX project.
Reconnection takes place when the magnetic field lines in plasma merge and snap apart with violent force. But NASA is flying blind in a sense when seeking such events, since mission operators don’t know precisely where reconnection will occur in space or what the data it produces will look like. And since the explosive events occur in milliseconds, the MMS craft, orbiting in tight formation at an average speed of some 20,000 miles per hour, will have only fleeting moments to detect and measure the phenomena.
Read more on PPPL website.