Narrator: This is Science Today. NASA is launching five identical space probes – the largest number of spacecraft ever attempted by the agency – to solve a longstanding mystery about the origin of magnetic storms, which intensify auroras, or Northern and Southern lights. The probes, which are part of a mission called THEMIS, were conceived and built by scientists at the University of California , Berkeley 's Space Sciences Laboratory.
Angelopoulous: It is a fantastic opportunity for Berkeley , but it also is a tremendous responsibility, so it has been exhilarating, but also excruciating – but great fun!
Narrator: Vassilis Angelopoulous, a research physicist at the Space Sciences Lab, is the principal investigator of the THEMIS mission.
Angelopoulous: The THEMIS satellites are designed to be placed strategically along the Sun-Earth line and track the flow of energy from one to the other, very much like meteorologists use buoys out in the ocean to track large ocean waves as they move from one buoy to another in order to understand atmospheric energy.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.