A NASA-sponsored researcher has recently found “hidden portals” in the magnetic field of the Earth through examining data from a NASA satellite. Calling them “X-points” or “electron diffusion regions”, Jack Scudder, a researcher at the University of Iowa says the portals are “places where the magnetic field of Earth connects to the magnetic field of the Sun.” He adds that the X-points are able to create “an uninterrupted path” from Earth to the atmosphere of the sun which is 150 million kilometers away.
Located a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth, these portals open and close several times a day while most of them are small and live for a short period of time, observations by NASA's THEMIS spacecraft and Europe's Cluster probes show.Scudder learned how to find the magnetic portals via employing data from a NASA’S space probe that orbited Earth more than a decade ago. This is while, according to the researcher, the elusive X-points are very hard to pinpoint because they open and close all of a sudden “and there are no signposts to guide us [the researchers] in.” NASA has announced plans for sending a new mission entitled ‘MMS’ (Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission) in 2014 to study the phenomenon in more detail. Consisting of four spacecrafts, MMS is slated to circle the earth and to learn more about the X-points. MR/GHN