NASA Plans To Launch Four Spacecraft At Once

By / 6 years ago / News, Science / 1 Comment

Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)

stacked satellites space laucnh
Sending up individual satellites is expensive and tricky business, the more rockets go up the higher are the odds that something will go wrong. So here’s an idea, send up multiple satellites simultaneously, stacked on top of each other. And if all goes according to plan NASA will be trying this in March 2015.

The purpose of the mission is to study the magnetic connection between the Earth and the sun. A single rocket will carry the four satellites to their destination, as you can see in the demo video. Once in orbit they will break free from the stack and to deploy its extendable limbs equipped with sensors. This is not only a cool concept but it will make sending things to space much more economic, which is certainly necessary considering NASA’s teeny tiny budget.

In March of 2015, an unprecedented NASA mission will launch to study a process so mysterious that no one has ever directly measured in space. To create the first-ever 3-dimensional maps of this process, a process called magnetic reconnection, which occurs all over the universe, the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission uses four separate spacecraft equipped with ultra high speed instruments.

Launching four satellites into space simultaneously is a complicated process. In addition, each spacecraft has several booms that will unfold and extend in space once on orbit. A launch and deployment with so many moving parts is meticulously planned.

Once in orbit, MMS will fly through regions near Earth where this little-understood process of magnetic reconnection occurs. Magnetic reconnection happens in thin layers just miles thick, but can tap into enough power at times to create gigantic explosions many times the size of Earth.
Reconnection happens when magnetic field lines explosively realign and release massive bursts of energy, while hurling particles out at nearly the speed of light in all directions. Magnetic reconnection powers eruptions on the sun and – closer to home – it triggers the flow of material and energy from interplanetary space into near-Earth space. The MMS orbit will carry the four spacecraft through reconnection regions near Earth, using this nearby natural laboratory to better understand how reconnection occurs everywhere in space.

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Johny

Johny (John-Erik) Krahbichler is the CEO and main author of Gadgetzz, since 2009. While Mr. Krahbichler's expertise is in consumer electronics, his true passion is science´, and educating the world about the universe we inhabit. Check out the non-profit Scientific Literacy Matters Currently Johny is using his experience from covering trade shows such as the CES, to work with trade show exhibition marketing.

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