At 10.44pm ET last night, NASA successfully launched the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket into space. It carries with it four Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft that will spend two years studying the magnetic fields between the Earth and the sun.
The four spacecraft will construct the first-ever 3D view of the magnetosphere. In particular, they will help NASA scientists to understand why the magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect — in turn releasing explosive quantities of energy, in a process known as reconnection, which can disrupt electronics on the surface of our planet.
This long exposure image shows Atlas V soaring into the night sky above the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41. [NASA]