TRIGGER: THE MMS MASCOT
"Trigger" is the mascot of the MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale) mission. Trigger, a small horse with a tetrahedral saddle, represents both the tetrahedral formation of the spacecraft and also the trigger signals that the spacecraft send to each other.
MMS is composed of four spacecraft that will fly in a "tetrahedron" formation. The four spacecraft measure electric and magnetic fields and charged particles. When one or more spacecraft measure a sudden change in any of their measurements, they send a "trigger" signal to each other. When the trigger level is high enough, that means the data are the most interesting to analyze and are sent to the ground at the highest resolution.
"Trigger" is very important for the MMS mission... he helps us find out which are the very most interesting data to bring down from space to analyze. The four spacecraft take a lot more data than we can send down (by radio) from space, so for most of the time in orbit, the spacecraft just saves averaged data. But when the measured data change rapidly, it means we are crossing through something interesting, either a boundary, or a place where magnetic reconnection happens. Since the purpose of MMS is to study reconnection, we want to bring down all the data we can for those special times. The spacecraft talk to each other and say "save this data!". Then each orbit, when the spacecraft passes over the radio telescope, the most interesting and valuable data are sent down for further study.
Trigger loves to fly, and enjoys the company of other NASA mascots. Trigger went to the STS-134 launch in April (that got postponed) and is planning to go again to view the reflight May 16.
Trigger recently flew to the edge of space May 8 on the "BTS-1" Balloon flight, as the local guide with his pals Commander Camilla SDO, Pilot Fuzz Aldrin, and Payload Specialist Skye Blue. (See image at left of Trigger examining the space capsule while Don Musselwhite attaches the electronics to the camera, GPS, and ham radio transmitter.) A number of Houston area "hams" were onsite to track the balloon using APRS and to help in the recovery effort. Several movies are available of the launch to watch MMS mascot Trigger fly aboard the BTS-1 Balloon:
2. "Fisheye" view of the launch (the whole sky at once)
The balloon reached a maximum speed of 101 mph and maximum altitude of 77,700 feet before bursting. Unfortunately, it landed in a swamp just east of Sabine Lake, LA, and recovery operations for the payload are continuing. The space mascots all had extensive survival training and are expected to be found in great shape.