NASA on Thursday launched Magnetosphere Multiscale spacecraft (MMS) from the Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station using United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The Magnetospheric Multiscale mission has been designed to fly in a pyramid formation through the magnetosphere.
The four crafts will fly at a distance of six miles from each other in orbits ranging from 44,000 to 95,000 miles from the surface of Earth. NASA project manager Craig Tooley said, “All four of our spacecraft have deployed and data indicates we have a healthy fleet.”
The mission will study magnetic reconnection, the process considered act as a catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in the solar system. The mission team will deploy antennas and booms on the spacecraft over the next few weeks. The mission team will also test all the instruments on the MMS crafts.
The observatories are expected to start sending data by early September once the deployment in pyramid formation is complete. Jim Burch, principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio (SwRI), said, “After a decade of planning and engineering, the science team is ready to go to work. We have never had this type of opportunity to study this fundamental process in such detail.”
The mission costing $1.1 billion will not only provide data regarding magnetic reconnection but will also offer more information about the powerful events in the solar system. MMS is the fourth mission in the NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes Program.