NASA rockets search for hurricane-like eddies in the upper atmosphere – AI Tech News

NASA rockets search for hurricane-like eddies in the upper atmosphere

A NASA rocket team will soon begin its mission to study giant hurricane-like whirlpools in the upper atmosphere to understand the weather patterns that impact the entire planet.

called on whirlwind experience (VortEx), the mission will depart from Andøya Space Center in the town of Andenes in northern Norway. The launch window will be between March 17 and 26, according to Andøya Space Center.

The main goal of the mission is to learn how high-altitude winds produce a phenomenon known as buoyancy waves, NASA said.

What are buoyancy waves?

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

According to NASA, buoyancy waves occur when a gust or disturbance suddenly pushes denser air upward into a region of low pressure, creating an oscillation as the atmosphere attempts to balance.

These oscillations lead to waves that propagate or travel away from the source of the disturbance, they added.

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

“They could come from approaching storm fronts or from winds hitting mountains and sent uphill,” said Gerald Lehmacher, professor of physics at Clemson University in South Carolina and principal investigator of the VortEx mission.

As buoyancy waves propagate, they can also travel upwards and pass through stable layers of the atmosphere. In doing so, they can produce giant whirlwinds of air.

These whirlpools, or vortices, are thought to span tens of kilometers in diameter. Due to their immense size, the vortices are too large to be measured and studied with conventional approaches, NASA said.

To overcome this, Lehmacher designed VortEx to measure vortices.

How will rockets study vortices?

According to NASA, the VortEx mission will use four rockets that will be launched two at a time. Each pair consists of a high thief and a low thief, launched a few minutes apart.

The high flyers will measure the winds and peak at around 224 miles (360 kilometers), NASA said. Low-flyers, reaching about 87 miles (140 kilometers) in altitude, will measure air density, which affects vortex formation.

The rockets will perform their measurements for a few minutes before returning to the surface and plunging into the Norwegian Sea.

A live stream of the VortEx launch will air on the Andøya Space Center YouTube channel starting March 17 at 4:30 p.m. ET

NASA rockets search for hurricane-like eddies in the upper atmosphere

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