X-point: NASA is looking for space portals




X-point: NASA is looking for space portals


In 1998, the spacecraft Polar (NASA) has provided important data and search for “portals” – unusual holes in space or time, through which travelers can get to distant worlds. “We call them X-points or electron diffusion region”, – explained the plasma physicist Jack Scudder of the University of Iowa. – “This is a place where the Earth’s magnetic field is connected with the magnetic field of the sun, creating a continuous path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere for many millions of miles away from us.”

Observations of THEMIS spacecraft and Europe’s Cluster probes suggest that these magnetic portals open and close dozens of times a day. They are located mostly in the tens or thousands of miles from Earth where the geomagnetic field meets the solar wind coming. Most portals are small and short-lived. Other – huge and stable. Tons of energetic particles pass through these holes, heating the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, causing geomagnetic storms and auroras fueling.

NASA is planning a mission called MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission) in 2014 to study the phenomenon. Armed with energetic particle detectors and magnetic sensors, the four MMS spacecraft will go into the magnetosphere of the Earth and will observe how the portals.

The only problem – to find them. Magnetic portals are invisible, unstable and elusive. They open and close without warning, and there are no signs of ingestion. Portals are formed in the process of magnetic reconnection. The magnetic field lines of the Sun and the Earth intersect crosswise and create openings. «X-points” – in the center of the crosshairs. Sudden connection of magnetic fields may trigger release of charged particles from the X-point, creating a region of the electron diffusion.

In order to detect these events, Scudder studied data from space probes, wandering around the Earth for more than 10 years. In the late 90’s machine Polar, owned by NASA, has spent years flying in the Earth’s magnetosphere and encountered many X-points during its mission.

Since Polar was equipped with the same sensors as the MMS, Scudder decided to see how the X-point looked through the eyes of Polar.

“Using data from Polar, we have found five simple combinations of measurements of magnetic fields and energetic particles, who told us what happens when we are faced with the X-point or electron diffusion region. One spacecraft, equipped with sufficient technical tools, can make such measurements. ”

This means that a single member of the MMS can not find the portal and to notify the other team members. Mission planners believed that MMS will have to spend a year or so of training before they are discovered and studied portals. Scudder’s work greatly speeds up the process, allowing MMS to work without delay.

Well, the idea NASA now seems descended from the pages of science fiction . With one exception: we now find portals, and they will be absolutely real. At the same time, and you are allowed to transfer information faster than the speed of light .
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