Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS)
The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is a Solar-Terrestrial Probe mission comprising four identically instrumented spacecraft that will use Earth's magnetosphere as a laboratory to study the microphysics of three fundamental plasma processes: magnetic reconnection, energetic particle acceleration, and turbulence. These processes occur in all astrophysical plasma systems but can be studied in situ only in our solar system and most efficiently only in Earth's magnetosphere, where they control the dynamics of the geospace environment and play an important role in the processes known as "space weather."
The four MMS spacecraft will carry identical suites of plasma analyzers, energetic particle detectors, magnetometers, and electric field instruments as well as a device to prevent spacecraft changing from interfering with the highly sensitive measurements required in and around the diffusion regions. The plasma and fields instruments will measure the ion and electron distributions and the electric and magnetic fields with unprecedented high (millisecond) time resolution and accuracy. These measurements will enable MMS to locate and identify the small (10's of km) and rapidly moving (10-100 km/s) diffusion regions, to determine their size and structure, and to discover the mechanism(s) by which the plasma and the magnetic field become decoupled and the magnetic field is reconfigured. MMS will make the first unambiguous measurements of plasma composition at reconnection sites, while energetic particle detectors will remotely sense the regions where reconnection occurs and determine how reconnection processes produce large numbers of energetic particles.
Review Status: MMS was chartered as a project review by the SMD. The MMS SIR is planned for September, 2012.
Review Manager: Greg Manuel