Nasa will launch sounding rockets to examine jets created by an aurora, using an artificial cloud

Nasa is launching two sounding rockets to study the localised jets created by an aurora. One of the rockets will deploy artificial clouds in the upper atmosphere.

Nasa is launching two sounding rockets to study the localised jets created by an aurora. One of the rockets will deploy artificial clouds in the upper atmosphere.

The two rockets are Black Brant IX rockets. This a two-stage rocket with a total mass of around 2,200 kg. These rockets are capable of reaching an apogee of 300 km. It’s a Canadian-designed rocket and is one of the most popular series of rockets ever built.

A sounding rocket is a rocket that carries scientific instruments for carrying out various experiments at an altitude between 50 km and 1,500 km.

The two rockets that Nasa is launching will target different altitudes. One will get to about 170km above the earth, the other to about 323 km. The lower altitude rocket will release a trimethyl aluminium vapour (TMA), which will show up as white, luminescent clouds to the naked eye.

The vapour will not pollute the atmosphere as it will react with oxygen to produce aluminium oxide, carbon dioxide and water vapour, all of which are naturally occurring constituents of our atmosphere.

Scientists will observe this cloud of vapour to get feedback on the “localised neutral jets” that occur within an aurora.

The test is scheduled between 13 February and 3 March 2017. The rockets will be launched from the Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska.

The flight will only last 10 minutes and will be live-streamed here.

Find our entire collection of stories, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos & more on Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission on our dedicated #Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.

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