March 15, 2016 – NASA launched the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission on March 12, 2015. MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that orbit around Earth through the dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study a little-understood phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process that happens in space, which powers a wide variety of events, from giant explosions on the sun to green-blue auroras shimmering in the night sky.
To celebrate the anniversary of the MMS launch, NASA shared a host of MMS facts from its flawless first year:
1 year: Length of time MMS has been in space
4: Number of observatories launched together on a single United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on March 12, 2015.
600: Number of people who helped build MMS.
8: Total pairs of booms successfully deployed.
100: Number of sensors flying on the four MMS observatories — all working perfectly.
33: Number of times per second that the Fast Plasma Investigation instrument on board MMS gathers pressure, velocity and temperature observations of the charged particles in space.
8 Terabytes: Amount of MMS data collected and shared with the public
360: Number of times MMS has crossed the magnetopause
6 miles: Closest approach of MMS observatories while flying in formation — a new space formation record set in October 2015.
43,500 miles: Greatest height at which GPS receivers have ever been used successfully — a record set by MMS in March 2015.
22,000 miles per hour: Fastest speed at which GPS receivers have ever been used successfully — a record set by MMS in March 2015.
MMS is the fourth NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) program mission. Goddard built, integrated and tested the four MMS spacecraft and is responsible for overall mission management and mission operations. The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, leads the Instrument Suite Science Team, with the University of New Hampshire leading the FIELDS instrument suite. Science operations planning and instrument command sequence development are performed at the MMS Science Operations Center at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder.