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US launches four-satellite mission to study reconnection in magnetosphere

March 13, 2015, 7:21 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
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WASHINGTON, March 13. /TASS/. Four US satellites have been launched into orbit on Thursday to study reconnection in the magnetosphere, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said on Friday. They were launched by Atlas V carrier rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:44pm local time (05:44am Moscow time).

"MMS [Magnetospheric Multiscale mission] is dedicated to the study of magnetic reconnection, a universal process where magnetic fields connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy," NASA said. The process of magnetic reconnection is responsible for such phenomena as solar flares, geomagnetic storms and aurora borealis (also known as northern lights).

"Flying in a tetrahedral formation, the MMS spacecraft will fly through the heart of reconnection events to allow three-dimensional mapping of how the particles and fields at hand interact," NASA said.

"By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps us understand reconnection elsewhere as well, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space," NASA added.

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