US launches 5 rockets to measure jet streams
WASHINGTON NASA LAUNCHED five rockets early on Tuesday to measure a high-altitude jet stream some 65 miles (105 kilometres) above the Earth’s surface, far higher than most planes fly, the US space agency said.
The rockets, known as the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) were to release a chemical that leaves a milky-white trail allowing observers on Earth to “see” the winds in space and track them with cameras, it said.
“This area shows winds much larger than expected,” Miguel Larsen, a space scientist at Clemson University who is the principal investigator for the five rockets, said in a statement ahead of the launch.
The winds reach speeds of 200-300 miles (320-480 kilometres) per hour, and may offer valuable information about the electromagnetic regions of space that can damage satellites and disrupt communications systems, NASA said.
“We don’t yet know what we’re going to see, but there is definitely something unusual going on. ATREX will help us understand the big question about what is driving these fast winds,” Larsen said.
The winds are far higher than the 30,000-foot (sixmile) high jet stream, in which passenger planes fly and which is often mentioned in weather reports.