NASA is studying how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy -- a process known as magnetic reconnection.
The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission will provide the first three-dimensional views of this fundamental process that can accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light. MMS uses Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere, as a natural laboratory to directly measure reconnection. Reconnection is a common processes in our universe; occurring in space near Earth, in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at virtually any boundary between space plasmas, including the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space. 15 May 2014