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NASA Jet Stream Study Lights up Night Sky

High in the sky, 60 to 65 miles above Earth's surface, winds rush through a little understood region of Earth's atmosphere at speeds of 200 to 300 miles per hour. Lower than a typical satellite's orbit, higher than where most planes fly, this upper atmosphere jet stream makes a perfect target for a particular kind of scientific experiment: the sounding rocket. Some 35 to 40 feet long, sounding rockets shoot up into the sky for short journeys of eight to ten minutes, allowing scientists to probe difficult-to-reach layers of the atmosphere.

In March, NASA will launch five such rockets in approximately five minutes to study these high-altitude winds and their intimate connection to the complicated electrical current patterns that surround Earth. First noticed in the 1960s, the winds in this jet stream shouldn't be confused with the lower jet stream located around 30,000 feet, through which passenger jets fly and which is reported in weather forecasts. This rocket experiment is designed to gain a better understanding of the high-altitude winds and help scientists better model the electromagnetic regions of space that can damage man-made satellites and disrupt communications systems. The experiment will also help explain how the effects of atmospheric disturbances in one part of the globe can be transported to other parts of the globe in a mere day or two.

The five sounding rockets, known as the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), will launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia releasing a chemical tracer into the air. The chemical -- a substance called trimethyl aluminum -- forms milky, white clouds that allow those on the ground to "see" the winds in space and track them with cameras. In addition, two of the rockets will have instrumented payloads to measure pressure and temperature in the atmosphere.

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Another multimedia item related to this story:
     Terrier-improved Malemute Animations (id 10924)
More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/missions/atrex-nightlight.html

Short narrated video about ATREX.    Short narrated video about ATREX.

For complete transcript, click here.
Duration: 2.2 minutes
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         1 GB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         302 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         68 MB
  960x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   76 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         58 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) WMV         52 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   32 MB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         31 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   21 MB
  320x180 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   9 MB
  1280x720   TIFF         235 KB
  1280x720   JPEG         144 KB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         22 MB
  320x180     JPEG         24 KB
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Video of the 5 ATREX sounding rocket launches and the trails of TMA (Trimethylaluminum) that they left in the upper atmosphere.    Video of the 5 ATREX sounding rocket launches and the trails of TMA (Trimethylaluminum) that they left in the upper atmosphere.

For complete transcript, click here.
Duration: 3.2 minutes
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         3 GB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         154 MB
  960x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   114 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         111 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) WMV         107 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         92 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   67 MB
  1280x720   PNG           739 KB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         46 MB
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Map of key ATREX locations.    Map of key ATREX locations.

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  1280 x 720       TIFF       2 MB
  1280 x 720       JPEG   228 KB


Map of key ATREX locations with trails, but no labels.    Map of key ATREX locations with trails, but no labels.

Available formats:
  1280 x 720       TIFF       2 MB
  1280 x 720       JPEG   220 KB


Atmosphere chart.    Atmosphere chart.

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  720 x 4080       TIFF       8 MB
  720 x 4080       JPEG   388 KB


Trimethylaluminum molecule.    Trimethylaluminum molecule.

Available formats:
  1280 x 720       TIFF       2 MB
  1280 x 720       JPEG   132 KB


In March 2012, NASA Wallops Flight Center is teaming up with Clemson University for the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX).  The experiment consists of launching 5 rockets in about 5 minutes to study the high-altitude jet stream.  The rockets will release a tracer that forms a milky, white trail-shaped cloud that will allow scientists to 'see' winds in space.  The tracers may be visible from South Carolina to the northeastern States for 20 minutes after launch. The ATREX launch window is March 14 to April 3.    In March 2012, NASA Wallops Flight Center is teaming up with Clemson University for the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX). The experiment consists of launching 5 rockets in about 5 minutes to study the high-altitude jet stream. The rockets will release a tracer that forms a milky, white trail-shaped cloud that will allow scientists to 'see' winds in space. The tracers may be visible from South Carolina to the northeastern States for 20 minutes after launch. The ATREX launch window is March 14 to April 3.

For complete transcript, click here.


Duration: 5.3 minutes
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         4 GB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) QT         102 MB
  320x240 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   20 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         144 MB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   113 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) WMV         116 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   45 MB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         26 MB
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Six different still images of the ATREX trails. Credit: NASA/James Mason-Foley    Six different still images of the ATREX trails.

Credit: NASA/James Mason-Foley

Available formats:
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Still image of ATREX sounding rocket launch. Credit: NASA/James Mason-Foley    Still image of ATREX sounding rocket launch.

Credit: NASA/James Mason-Foley

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  1800 x 2700     JPEG       1 MB


Still image of trails. Credit: NASA/James Mason-Foley    Still image of trails.

Credit: NASA/James Mason-Foley

Available formats:
  1200 x 1800     JPEG   790 KB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10922
Animation Number:10922
Completed:2012-03-02
Animators:Walt Feimer (HTSI)
 Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
 Trent L. Schindler (USRA)
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Narrator:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Scientist:Miguel Larsen (Clemson University)
Writers:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
 Karen Fox (ASI)
Series:Narrated Movies
Goddard TV Tape:G2012-024 -- ATREX
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Atmosphere
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Music
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Wallops Flight Facility
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Wind
SVS >> Rocket
NASA Science >> Earth
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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