NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission took first high-resolution measurements of an interplanetary shock. These shocks are made of particles and electromagnetic waves launched by Sun. These interplanetary shocks provide ideal test beds for learning about larger universal phenomena.
About Interplanetary shocks
They are type of collisionless shock — ones where particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another. These collisionless shocks are found throughout the universe, including in supernovae, black holes and distant stars. These shocks are made of particles and electromagnetic waves launched by the Sun, which continually releases streams of charged particles called solar wind.
About Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission
It is NASA’s robotic space mission launched in March 2015 to study Earth’s magnetosphere. It consists of constellation of four identical spacecraft that orbit/fly in tetrahedral formation around Earth through dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study Magnetic reconnection. It is also designed to gather information about microphysics of energetic particle turbulence and acceleration, processes that occur in many astrophysical plasmas.
Records: In November 2016, it had set Guinness world record for highest altitude fix of Global Positioning System (GPS) signal at 70000 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. It also had achieved closest flying separation of multi-spacecraft formation with only 7.2 km between the four satellites.
Magnetic reconnection: It is phenomenons unique to plasma i.e. mix of negatively and positively charged particles that make up stars, fill space and account for an estimated 99% of the observable universe.