Magnetic Reconnection; what is it? Magnetic Reconnection occurs in solar flares, CME’s, and pretty much everything in the Solar Atmosphere, at least that we have observed thus far. Basically there are 4 different regions, magnetic domains if you will, and the four regions follow some of the rules meaning that they go from northern most to southern most regions where the various fields reconnect, BUT these fields also along their routes splice to one another changing their pattern of connectivity. This is Magnetic Reconnection. -One thing that is most troubling about this is that it violates the conservation law in Plasma Physics.
What occurs when this reconnection happens? Take an instance of the Earth’s Magnetosphere while it is stretched by Solar Wind. The four fields (see picture above) store energy and then when they suddenly reconnect the energy is released all at once. Think of a sling shot with its band pulled way back. When that band is released it will be unleashing a lot of energy. In the case of Earth, that release of energy translates into electrons with tens of thousands of volts being released all at once and impacting the upper atmosphere. FYI - this precedes aurora in the sky, so next CME check one out!
So then how does this relate to the MMS Mission (Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission)? Glad you asked.
The Sun has a mighty Magnetosphere and then the Earth also has its own Magnetosphere. Through Solar Flares and CMEs particles stream off of the Sun and if the spot is Earth facing into Earth’s magnetosphere. Earth’s field actually distorts under the pressure exerted on it. What we end up with is the Sun and the Earth are connected with particles and plasma from the Sun once stopped by our magnetosphere now is invited on in and these ‘things’ are unforgiving; from our power grid to our satellites to a 747 in the sky (one of the reasons for space weather provided by SDO). Anyway, the goal of the MMS is understand this process so we know the how & when of it.
Above is pictured how the MMS will manage to surround the occurrence and observe from all angles. It consist of four identical spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation.
There is a YouTube video that might make it a tad clearer:www.youtube.com/embed/uRi5L9dw2D0 .
**Now let’s have some fun. Consider what the possibilities are for this information. Learning about it can first and foremost help NASA in its constant efforts to protect the Earth. However it can also (maybe) help work out the details for the “bubble”. (Either as it is used to protect a ship or the space elevator or a colony from cosmic radiation and micro meteors OR for FTL) AND best case scenario we’ll lean the ins and outs of creating our own gate system. (Stargate, no?) Think that’s farfetched? Magnetic Reconnection has been theorized to be the phenomena behind Black Holes and Pulsars.