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Understanding Magnetic Storms Throughout the Universe, Lecture on June 11

Graphic Visualization of Magnetic Reconnection Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Graphic Visualization of Magnetic Reconnection Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The universe is full of plasma and magnetic fields actively swirling, spiraling, and colliding. These mighty magnetic mysteries can cause gigantic explosions of energy such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and geomagnetic storms which often enhance the Earth’s auroras. Space weather is influenced by these highly charged events which can then cause havoc with Earth’s communication networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.

This past March (2015), NASA launched four spacecraft for the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission. MMS is the first mission dedicated to studying the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. MMS will observe reconnection directly in Earth’s protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. Reconnection is a common process in our universe and one of the most important drivers of space weather events.

Dr. John Dorelli, a space scientist and computational physicist at Goddard, will discuss NASA’s recently launched MMS mission in the June 11th lecture “The Fantastic Voyage of MMS: Understanding Magnetic Storms Throughout the Universe” at the Library of Congress. For a preview, check out NASA Goddard’s YouTube video- MMS Science Overview: The Mysteries of MMS.

Artist rendition of MMS Spacecraft.  Credit: NASA GSFC

Artist rendition of MMS Spacecraft. Credit: NASA GSFC

We hope you can join us on Thursday June 11 for “The Fantastic Voyage of MMS: Understanding Magnetic Storms Throughout the Universe” from 11:30 am- 12:30 pm in the Pickford Theater, 3rd floor of the Library’s Madison Building. If you cannot make it to the program, it will be recorded for broadcast on the Library of Congress science webcast page and on its You Tube channel “Topics in Science” playlist in the coming months. In the meantime, check out the 2014 lecture on  “The Moody Sun” featuring Goddard’s Holly Gilbert who discusses solar storms and how these dynamic phenomena interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. A recording of this program is available as a LC webcast or YouTube video.

 

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