NASA sending Quartet Satellite on MMS to resolve Magnetic Mystery near Earth

Every place where there’s a magnetic field has the potential of snapping and reconnecting. That’s not all; in case of magnetic fields embedded in energetic plasmas, one can also expect explosions.

The physical reactions of magnetic fields can be observes in a range of things including tokamaks found inside fusion reactors, the corona of the sun and so on. However, scientists are not yet clear about the exact factor responsible for triggering those reactions; they have also not been able to point out the exact reason behind the energetic nature of the results of reconnections.

People at NASA, however, are looking to change all that by launching satellites into the magnetosphere, the atmospheric layer fondly referred to as Earth’s reconnection laboratory. The satellites are part of one of NASA’s formation-flying groups.


Physics textbooks consist of several pages explaining magnetic reconnections and the reasons behind them; however, even after all those explanations, the subject is still extremely difficult to understand.

For a reconnection to take place, usually making magnetic fine lines to cross each other is enough. However, what the reason behind such energetic nature of the reactions of those reconnections?

Magnetic reconnection drives a couple of well known solar phenomena, coronal mass ejection and solar flares. The magnetic field lines tend to break, then reconnect and finally accelerate the plasma rapidly through the solar corona. This often causes extremely powerful blasts.

Magnetic fields on the other end of the scale i.e. inside the fusion chambers get used for containing and controlling the plasma going through fusion. However, in case of any kind of instability within the field, experiments can be interrupted due to small-scale reconnections.

Southwest research Institute’s Jim Burch, when discussing about the subject, said that for several years researchers have regarded fusion as one of the most abundant and cleanest energy sources for planet Earth. He added that an approach called the magnetic confinement fusion has presented extremely promising results using devices like tokamaks. According to him, the major concern for the researchers has been keeping plasma stored inside the chamber.

In a recent news release by NASA, Burch said that one of the main issues researchers have been facing is definitely magnetic reconnection. What makes the issue even more serious is that the results of reconnections cannot be studies properly as their volumes are too petite for being probed.