Related Topics: Science & Technology, NASA’s MMS Mission


  • NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) has captured an “interplanetary shock” on the Sun for the first time.
  • The footage shows a clump of ions from the solar wind fly away from the Sun as they “bounce off” the shock.
  • The charged particles can be seen flying away from the side of the Sun before spreading out into the solar system.


What is an Interplanetary Shock?

  • Interplanetary shocks are a type of collisionless shock — ones where particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another.
  • These collisionless shocks are a phenomenon found throughout the universe, including in supernovae, black holes and distant stars.
  • Interplanetary shocks start at the Sun, which continually releases streams of charged particles called the solar wind.


NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS)

  • It was launched by NASA in 2015.
  • The mission is focused on studying the magnetic environment surrounding Earth.
  • MMS consists of 4 identical spacecraft that orbit around Earth through the dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study ‘Magnetic reconnection’.
[Magnetic reconnection is a phenomenon unique to plasma, that is, the mix of positively and   negatively charged particles that make up the stars fill space and account for an estimated 99 percent of the observable universe]
  • MMS studies collisionless shocks around Earth to gain a greater understanding of shocks across the universe.

[Sources: NASA, Live Science]

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