This fundamental process occurs throughout the universe where magnetic fields connect and disconnect with an explosive release of energy, a NASA statement said.

"Magnetic reconnection is one of the most important drivers of space weather events," said Jeff Newmark, interim director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

"Space weather events can affect modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation and electrical power grids," he informed.

The spacecraft will begin science operations in September. Unlike previous missions to observe the evidence of magnetic reconnection events, MMS will have sufficient resolution to measure the characteristics of ongoing reconnection events as they occur.

The mission consists of four identical space observatories that will provide the first 3D view of magnetic reconnection. Because the observatories will fly through reconnection regions in a tight formation, in less than a second, key sensors on each spacecraft are designed to measure the space environment at rates faster than any previous mission.

The launch of MMS on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be managed by the Launch Services Programme at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

 

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