NASA rockets search for hurricane-like swirls in upper atmosphere

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A NASA rocket team will soon launch its mission to study giant, hurricane-like vortices in the upper atmosphere to better understand the weather patterns that affect the entire planet.

called the vorticity experiment (VortEx), will launch from the mission Andoya Space Center In the city of Andes in northern Norway. According to the Andoya Space Center, the launch window will be between March 17 and 26.

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NASA said the primary objective of the mission is to learn how high-altitude winds generate a phenomenon known as buoyancy waves.

What are surge waves?

Bounce waves are large pulses of energy that cause changes where Earth’s atmosphere mixes with space.


According to NASA, surge waves occur when a gust or disturbance suddenly pushes dense air upward into an area of ​​low pressure, creating an oscillation as the atmosphere tries to balance itself.

He postulated that these oscillations produce waves that propagate or ripple away from the source of the disturbance.

It is part of NASA’s Vortex program.
NASA Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens / NASA

“They can come from storm fronts, or from winds hitting mountains and being sent aloft,” said Gerald Lehmacher, professor of physics at Clemson University in South Carolina and the principal investigator for the Vortex mission.

As buoyancy waves exit, they can also travel upward and pass through stagnant layers of the atmosphere. In doing so, they can create huge vortices of air.

These vortices, or vortices, are believed to extend for tens of miles. NASA said that because of their enormous size, vortices are too large to measure and study by conventional methods.

To overcome this, Lehmacher designed the Vortex to measure vortices.

How will you study rocket vortices?

According to NASA, the Vortex mission will use four rockets that will be launched two at a time. Each pair consists of one high-flyer and one low-flyer, which are launched at intervals of a few minutes.

NASA said the high-flyers will measure winds and reach an altitude of about 224 miles (360 kilometers). The low-flyers, reaching altitudes of about 87 miles (140 kilometers), will measure air density, which affects how vortices form.

The rockets will take their measurements for a few minutes before returning to the surface and splashing down in the Norwegian Sea.

A livestream of the VortEx launch will be broadcast on the Andøya Space Center YouTube channel on March 17 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

NASA rockets search for hurricane-like swirls in upper atmosphere

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