NASA’S MMS Mission Breaks Guinness World Record (Download PDF)

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NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission made the Guinness world record for highest altitude fix of a Global Positioning System (GPS) signal achieving closest flying separation of a multi-spacecraft formation with only 7.2 km between the four satellites.

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale

  • Mission still in the first year of its primary mission providing vision into Earth’s magnetosphere.
  • Four MMS satellites operating in a highly near elliptical orbit set the signal record at 70,000 kilometers ASL
  • Satellites incorporate GPS measurements into their exact tracking systems.
  • Require very sensitive position and orbit calculations to guide fitted flying formations.

About Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission

  • NASA’s unmanned space mission to study the Earth’s magnetosphere using 4 identical spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral or pyramid formation.
  • Launched on 13 March 2015.
  • Each spacecraft has launch mass of 1,360 kg (2,998 lb).
  • Satellites are closest to Earth, moving at up to 35,405 km/hour, making them the fastest known operational users of a GPS receiver.  

Objectives

  • Mission maps magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs as the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields interact.
  • Understanding causes of magnetic reconnection is important for understanding:

    • Occurrences of flares on surface of sun
    • Auroras on Earth
    • Areas surrounding black holes (and event horizons)
  • Designed to gather information related to:

    • Microphysics of magnetic reconnection
    • Energetic particle acceleration and turbulence
    • Processes that occur in many astrophysical plasmas

Magnetosphere

  • Region of space surrounding an astronomical object where charged particles are controlled by that object’s magnetic field.
  • Magnetospheres structure and behavior depend on several variables.
  • This magnetic field near the surface of various astronomical objects resembles that of a dipole- William Gilbert discovered this magnetic field on the surface of Earth.
Image of Magnetosphere

Image of Magnetosphere

Image of Magnetosphere

- Published/Last Modified on: November 8, 2016

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