When you hear of portals in space, your mind immediately harks back to all those science fiction films and television series where members of an expeditionary team harness their enormous power to master space travel; Star Trek and Stargate spring as prime examples, off the top of my head. It comes as a shock to establish, according to NASA, that these ideas were not so far-fetched. Mysterious portals exist within the earth’s magnetic field and NASA plans a mission to investigate them.
The areas of interest occur at critical points between the magnetic field of the Sun and the magnetic field of our earth, instigating a continuous “path” between the atmosphere of both bodies. Jack Scudder, a plasma physicist working at the University of Iowa, explains in more detail:
“We call them X-points or electron diffusion regions… They’re places where the magnetic field of earth connects to the magnetic field of the sun, creating an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere 93 million miles away.”
NASA collected irregular observations from its THEMIS spacecraft and Europe’s Cluster probes. Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) was originally used to discover the influence of substorms on the development of beautiful auroral displays, witnessed over North America.
Using data from these probe sets, NASA was able to detect the existence of these mysterious magnetic portals at the point at which the Earth’s geomagnetic field interfaces with the highly energetic particles within the solar winds, emanating from the sun. Most of these portals are found to be transient in nature, opening for only brief moments at any given time; on the other hand, other portals can endure for much longer, permitting an influx of energetic particles through its aperture.
When the sun’s solar winds enter these fleeting portals, the result is the heating of the earth’s upper atmosphere, creating what are known as geomagnetic storms. These geomagnetic storms are believed to take place when the solar winds exert a compressive force on the magnetosphere and an interaction between two magnetic fields; that of the earth, and that of the solar winds. This increases the transmission of heated gases through the magnetosphere, which then increases the electric current in this region.
According to NASA’s research, storms are usually triggered when stretched magnetic field lines “snap back,” sending energetic particles hurling back to earth. This can then cause disruption to devices that operate using electricity, including televisions, computers and cell phones. Such interactions may also result in an aurora, due to atoms in the atmosphere becoming energized.
In an attempt to verify how these portals operate, NASA is planning the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) in 2014. The operation will see four spacecraft distributed along the earth’s magnetosphere to study these phenomenon using a series of magnetic and particle detection sensors.
The next part of the problem is in knowing where to look for these invisible, temporary portals. Scudder has managed to identify some signs, which are indicative of portal opening. As mentioned before, X-points could hold the key. Scudder investigated data from NASA’s Polar craft, which spent ten years around the magnetosphere and encountered X-points regularly. This information has provided astronomers with patterns of readings, pointing towards the location of an X-point and, therefore, a likely portal opening event.
Telescopes.com interviewed a quantum physicist, called Nick Herbert, who explained how to stabilize these portals to use for space travel. Herbert suggests using the negative energy of “Casimir force”:
“… you thread these wormholes with this negative energy, and it props them open… then you can use these things as time tunnels.”
Work on the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission has been ongoing since the portal discoveries back in 2012. The team have recently completed a thorough performance tests on some of the four observatory components, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
So, who knows, in 2014 NASA might finally gleam some understanding of these mysterious portals, which are found to pop up throughout the earth’s magnetic field. Could mankind eventually exploit these events as “wormholes” to travel to distant locations? What are your thoughts?
By: James Fenner