Thursday, July 4, 2013

NASA launches rockets to study electrical currents in ionosphere

Two suborbital rockets were successfully launched 15 seconds apart Thursday morning from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility as part of a study of electrical currents in the ionosphere.

The launch of the Black Brant V at 10:31:25 a.m. EDT and the Terrier-Improved Orion at 10:31:40 were part of the Daytime Dynamo experiment, a joint project between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The project is designed to study a global electrical current called the dynamo, which sweeps through the ionosphere. The first rocket carried a payload that collected data on the neutral and charged particles in the ionosphere. The second rocket released a long trail of lithium gas to track how the upper atmospheric wind varies with altitude. These winds are believed to be the drivers of the dynamo currents.

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