NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) has successfully made it to space aboard an Atlas V rocket. The mission, made up of four identical spacecraft, will spend two years studying the boundary between the magnetic fields of the Earth and the Sun.
.@NASA_MMS in Earth’s orbit, preparing to study magnetic reconnection http://t.co/aIyEvBUllW #MagRecon pic.twitter.com/TyEc1j80Hx— NASA (@NASA) March 13, 2015
The relationship between those fields is something we don't know a lot about right now. NASA wants to change that, because massive eruptions on the surface of the Sun can pose a real danger to electronic systems here on Earth. The rocket launched on schedule at 10:44 PM ET, and proceeded to space as the scientists on the ground expected, dropping its payload of four satellites in orbit around the Earth.
NASA specifically wants to know more about what's called "magnetic reconnection," which is the process that accelerates particles to these dangerous levels. Not only does it occur on the Sun (it's the driving force behind the Sun's coronal mass ejections), but it takes place in this boundary area as well.