Nasa’s Dynamo-2 mission to satellite team to study the giant electric current in Earth

Nasa’s Dynamo-2 mission to satellite team to study the giant electric current in Earth

Two sounding rockets are going to be launched this month under Nasa’s Dynamo-2 mission to team with a satellite to review the enormous current in Earth’s ionosphere. the 2 rockets, scheduled to be launched on separate days, will team with Nasa’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite to advance our understanding of the atmospheric dynamo, said the US space agency.

About 80,000 metres above the world surface, where the atmosphere blends into space, a pattern of electrical current swirls in continent-sized circuits forming an Earth-sized electric generator. the enormous electrical current migrates across the earth within the ionosphere wherever the Sun is directly overhead. within the ionosphere, the Sun's intense radiation separates electrons from their atoms, allowing electricity to flow.

While most measurements of the dynamo come from magnetometers, a tool on the bottom that monitors the way current disturbs Earth’s magnetic flux , taking measurements from inside the ionosphere will provide more detail about the phenomenon. Earth’s ionosphere is that the dynamic region high within the atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather from above.

Scott England, an area physicist and collaborator for the upcoming Dynamo-2 campaign, said that the measure from inside the ionosphere may be a “really tricky part” because the air is far too thin for an aircraft and too dense to fly most spacecraft. “So a method of creating these measurements is to fly a rocket through it”, England added.

One test rocket will get down to “quiet” conditions, while the opposite will get down to “disturbed” conditions, on two separate days. The launches are going to be timed in order that the ICON satellite, designed to research changes within the ionosphere of Earth, are going to be passing over at an equivalent time to match data.

The sounding rockets will make brief measurements in space before falling back to Earth a couple of minutes later.

“While ground-based methods can provide large-scale, integrated measurements, sounding rockets give us local, fine-scale data on the ionospheric current”, said Takumi Abe, an area physicist at JAXA and collaborator for the Dynamo missions.

The Dynamo-2 rockets will launch from Nasa’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia on separate days between July 6-20.

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