NASA’s MMS mission sets new Guinness World Record

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) has broken the Guinness World record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal.

The four MMS flights used the GPS navigation at an altitude of 70,000 km above Earth’s surface, to stay in a tight flying formation while they surveyed the Earth’s magnetic field.

Here’s all you should know about MMS:

  • The mission investigates how the Sun and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect while transferring energy from one to another in a process known as magnetic reconnection
  • Four similar instrumented space craft measure plasmas, fields and particles in areas that face frequent reconnection
  • The mission will also help establish knowledge, methods and technologies applicable to future space weather missions and the future growth and development of space weather forecasting
  • The adjustable pyramid-like formation of the four space craft helps them to observe the three dimensional structure of magnetic reconstruction
  • It helps them to determine if the reconnection occurs in an isolated locale, everywhere within a larger region at once, or traveling across space
  • Earlier, the mission had held a separate record for being the closest flying spacecraft in a formation, with a distance of only 7 kms between two satellites

What is magnetic reconnection?

Magnetic reconnection is a process that occurs as the Sun and the Earth’s magnetic field’s interact.

Studying magnetic connections enables scientists to understand various phenomenon ranging from flares on the Sun’s surface to aurora’s in Earth’s atmosphere.

The satellites are scheduled to go higher orbit to take a look at a different area of the magnetosphere in Spring, which will commence the second phase of the mission. During the stage the satellites are expected to double their current record.

Source: India Today

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