Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2009)|
The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) is a planned NASA unmanned space mission, to study the Earth's magnetosphere using four identical spacecraft flying in a tetrahedral formation. It will be deployed in 2014. It is designed to gather information about the microphysics of magnetic reconnection, energetic particle acceleration, and turbulence, processes that occur in many astrophysical plasmas.
The mission builds upon the successes of the ESA Cluster Mission, but will surpass it in spatial resolution and in temporal resolution, allowing for the first time measurements of the critical electron diffusion region, the site where magnetic reconnection occurs. Its orbit is optimized to spend extended periods in locations where reconnection is known to occur: at the dayside magnetopause—the place where the pressure from the solar wind and the planets' magnetic field are equal—and in the magnetotail—which is formed by pressure from the solar wind on a planet's magnetosphere and which can extend great distances away from its originating planet.
Magnetic reconnection in Earth's magnetosphere is one of the mechanisms responsible for the aurora, and it is important to the science of controlled nuclear fusion because it is one mechanism preventing magnetic confinement of the fusion fuel. The study of turbulence in outer space involves the measurement of motions of matter in stellar atmospheres, like that of the Sun, and magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon in which energy is efficiently transferred from a magnetic field to charged particles.
Personnel and purpose 
The principal investigator is James L. Burch of Southwest Research Institute, assisted by an international team of investigators, both instrument leads and theory and modeling experts.  The Project Scientist is Thomas E. Moore of Goddard Space Flight Center. Education and public outreach is a key aspect of the mission, with student activities, data sonification, and planetarium shows being developed.
The mission was selected for support by NASA in 2005; it has a projected launch date of 2014. System engineering, spacecraft bus design, and integration and test will be done by Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Instrumentation is being improved, with extensive experience brought in from other missions, such as IMAGE, the Cluster and Cassini missions. In June 2009, MMS was allowed to proceed to Phase C, since they passed their PDR. The mission passed its Critical Design Review in September 2010. The launch is scheduled for October 2014 according to NASA. The craft will be carried to orbit by an Atlas V 421 rocket.
Formation flying 
In order to collect the desired science data, the four satellite MMS constellation must maintain a tetrahedral formation through a defined region of interest in a highly elliptical orbit. The formation will be maintained through the use of a next generation space rated GPS receiver, Navigator, to provide orbit knowledge, and regular formation maintenance maneuvers.
- Lewis, W.S. "MMS-SMART: Quick Facts". Southwest Research Institute. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
- Vaivads, Andris; Retinò, Alessandro; André, Mats (12 July 2006). "Microphysics of Magnetic Reconnection". Space Science Reviews. Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-7019-3. ISSN 0038-6308. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
- "The SMART Team". Mms.space.swri.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- "Q&A: Missions, Meetings, and the Radial Tire Model of the Magnetosphere". Nasa.gov. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- "NASA's Magnetospheric Mission Passes Major Milestone". Nasa.gov. 2010-09-03. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
- Lewis, W.S. "MMS-SMART: Quick Facts". Southwest Research Institute. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- "United Launch Alliance Atlas V Awarded Four NASA Rocket Launch Missions" (Press release). United Launch Alliance. 16 March 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
- Moldwin, Mark, An Introduction to Space Weather,Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-86149-6, 2007.
- SWRI to Lead MMS Mission
- Curtis, Steve, Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission: Cross-scale Exploration of Complexity in the Magnetosphere, Ch 8 of Nonequilibrium Phenomena in Plasmas, ed. P. Kaw, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4020-3108-3, 2005.
- National Academy of Sciences, "The Sun to the Earth - And Beyond", ISBN 978-0-309-08972-2, 2003. online version available.
- NASA 2006 Strategic Plan
- NASA 2007 Science Plan
- MMS Site at Goddard Space Flight Center
- MMS pages at SWRI
- Educational and public outreach site at Rice University
- Podcast site at GFSC
- MMS YouTube site
- MMS Page at NASA Science Mission Directorate
- Space Math Problems