NASA searches for hurricane-like swirls in upper atmosphere

NASA’s rocket team will soon begin a mission to study the giant hurricane-like vortices of the upper atmosphere to understand the weather patterns that affect the entire planet.

called Vorticity experiment (VortEx), the mission is Andoya Space Center Andenes town in northern Norway. According to Andøya Space Center, the launch will take place between March 17th and 26th.

According to NASA, the main purpose of the mission is to learn how high-altitude winds create a phenomenon known as buoyancy waves.

What is a buoyant wave?

Buoyancy waves are large pulses of energy that cause changes where the Earth’s atmosphere melts into space.

According to NASA, buoyancy waves occur when a gust or disturbance suddenly pushes denser air into an area of ​​lower pressure, creating oscillations as the atmosphere tries to balance.

These vibrations spread away from the source of the disturbance, or lead to ripple waves, they added.

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

Gerald Lehmacher, professor of physics at Clemson University in South Carolina and principal investigator on the VortEx mission, said: “We could be approaching a storm front, or the wind could hit a mountain and blow us upward. ‘ said.

As buoyant waves ripple, they can move upward and pass through stable layers of the atmosphere.

These eddies, or vortices, are thought to stretch for tens of miles. According to NASA, the eddies are so large that they are too large to measure and study with traditional approaches.

To overcome this, Lehmacher designed VortEx to measure eddies.

How will rockets study vortices?

According to NASA, the VortEx mission will use four rockets launched two at a time. Each pair consists of one high flyer and one low flyer, launched every few minutes.

According to NASA, High Flyer will measure winds and peak at about 224 miles (360 kilometers). Reaching an altitude of about 87 miles (140 kilometers), the low-altitude airship measures air density, which affects how vortices form.

The rocket will make measurements for several minutes before returning to the surface and splashing back into the Norwegian Sea.

A live stream of the VortEx launch will be broadcast on the Andoya Space Center YouTube channel on March 17 at 4:30 PM ET.

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