NASA has just found a new phenomenon in our Earth’s outer layer of the magnetic field. Scientists believe they can now uncover its influence on our planet and its role in the universe.
Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission – the MMS Spacecraft
The unmanned spacecraft sent by NASA called MMS has just discovered an event known as ‘magnetic reconnection.’ The spacecraft was launched in 2015 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex.
MMS had to study and get as much data as it could on the microphysics of magnetic reconnection.
Until now, scientists have seen this event in the universe and in our planet’s magnetosphere. They have also seen a flow of ionized hydrogen atoms emanate from the magnetosphere.
However, researchers have seen the same phenomenon, only it was in the space above the Earth – in the magnetosheath, which protects it from the solar winds.
Researchers call this phenomenon an “electron magnetic reconnection.” Instead of the one observed until now, this magnetic reconnection shoots off small electron jets (not ionized hydrogen atoms).
Michael Shay is a professor from the University of Delaware, and partner in the analysis of the data collected from the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission spacecraft.
Tai Phan is the senior fellow in the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California (Berkeley) and also the lead author of the study. He explains the results of their study:
“The turbulence in the magnetosheath contains a lot of magnetic energy. People have been debating how this energy is dissipated, and magnetic reconnection is one of the possible processes.”
Researchers believe the “electron magnetic reconnection” will help them understand the space environment and the properties of the universe. They could even find out how it affects space satellites or electrical power industries.
For more information, you can check the study in the journal Nature.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.