Ready for some strange exploration?

According to NASA, Jack Scudder—a researcher at the University of Iowa—has found “hidden portals on Earth’s magnetic field that open and close dozens of times each day.”

Some of them are open for long periods of time. Scudder says that these portals “create an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere 93 million miles away.”

Called X-points or electron diffusion regions, they are located “a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth. The portals are created through a process of magnetic reconnection in which lines of magnetic force from both celestial bodies mingle and criss-cross through space. The crisscrossing creates these x-points.

The portals are “invisible, unstable and elusive,” opening and closing without any warning. When they open, however, they are capable of transporting energetic particles at high-speed from the Sun’s atmosphere’s to Earth’s, causing geomagnetic storms.

How can Scudder find them? He uses data by NASA’s THEMIS spacecraft and the ESA’s Cluster probes, following crucial clues found in the data from NASA’s Polar spacecraft, which studied Earth’s magnetosphere in the late 1990s:

NASA will launch a mission in 2014 to observe the portals – just a few decades behind the crew from Star Trek in “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

Watch a NASA video on the Hidden Magnetic Portals  3:54