NASA scientists headed to Annapolis on Feb. 1, 2013, for Aerospace@Annapolis, an annual overview of the aerospace industry held for the benefit of Maryland state lawmakers. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. organized the event showcasing numerous space missions.
Over 400 people attended the event. State lawmakers, along with their staff and guests, such as a visiting class of midshipmen taking a course in aerospace engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy, toured the exhibits. Goddard's Heliophysics Science Division highlighted two aspects of their current efforts: the Space Weather Research Center (SWRC) and the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission.
The SWRC team showcased the various models and instruments that help them monitor activity on the sun that – when directed toward Earth – causes space weather that can interfere with satellites and communications systems in space.
The MMS team shared information about the mission's science, its technology and engineering and its educational outreach plans. With a planned launch of late 2014, MMS will study something called magnetic reconnection, which ultimately drives space weather. Magnetic reconnection is an explosive process in space that transfers energy from magnetic fields to heat and particle acceleration.