NASA Satellite Quartet Aims to Crack Magnetic Mystery Near Earth

A cosmic phenomenon in Earth's magnetic field that is both dazzling and potentially dangerous for people on the surface is the focus of a new scientific mission, scheduled to launch into orbit today. The Magnetsopheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, consists of four satellites that will study a process called magnetic reconnection: the explosive phenomenon that can send powerful bursts of particles hurtling toward Earth, potentially damaging satellites. scientists say it could finally reveal how this phenomenon occurs. The mission requires an elaborately choreographed arrangement of four satellites in an orbit around Earth, placing them in the path of the magnetic reconnection events taking place right on Earth's doorstep.