NASA to send two rockets into the northern lights

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA specialists have shared plans to launch two rockets to a height of over 200 km directly into the northern lights in order to study in detail the processes of energy exchange between the Earth and the surrounding outer space. This is reported by the NASA portal.

Auroras are born at the boundary between the electrically neutral atmosphere surrounding the planet and interplanetary space filled with charged particles of the solar wind plasma interacting with the geomagnetic field.

The resulting luminescent glow from below looks like huge panels of different colors and oscillating light waves, but the picture is not limited to the terrestrial spectacle interactions between particles excite more extensive boundary layers of the atmosphere, and it is the effect of charged particles on these upper layers that NASA is interested in, which is being prepared in Alaskan test site for the upcoming March 23 INCAA mission – Ion Neutral Compound during an active aurora.

There is no clear boundary of the layer where the neutral gas ends and the plasma begins – there is a vast boundary zone where two types of particles mix, which collide from time to time and emit photons of different wavelengths: the color of the “panels” depends on the composition of the atmospheric molecules: oxygen gives a pale – green or red light, nitrogen – reddish or violet.

The first rocket is planned to release harmless steam tracers – colorful chemicals similar to those used in fireworks before reaching a maximum altitude of 300 km.

Steam tracers will create visible clouds that researchers can see from the ground, thus tracking air currents near the aurora. The second rocket, which will be launched shortly after the first, reaching an altitude of about 200 km, will measure the temperature and density of the plasma in and around the aurora.


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