NASA Alaska-launched rockets to study space X-ray emissions and create polar mesospheric cloud

phys.org | 1/9/2018 | Staff
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NASA rockets launched during the Alaskan winter typically explore the interaction of solar winds with Earth's atmosphere and the resulting auroras that dance across the night sky. However this winter, between January 15 - 31, 2018, NASA personnel and university researchers are traveling to the Poker Flat Research Range (PFRR) in Alaska to launch several rocket-borne investigations for other purposes.

Between January 15 - 31, 2018, scientists will launch four rockets to measure x-ray emissions from space and determine how large quantities of water could affect the upper atmosphere and form Polar Mesospheric clouds, or PMCs.

Rocket - Science - Investigation - Diffuse - X-rays

One rocket will carry a science investigation called the Diffuse X-rays from the Local galaxy, or DXL, mission. This investigation aims to study the sources of X-rays that hurtle towards Earth from elsewhere in our galaxy. "Very low energy diffuse X-rays from space are believed to come from two sources," said Massimiliano Galeazzi, the principal investigator for the DXL mission from the University of Miami, Florida. "The first source is located outside our solar system and is generated by remnants of multiple supernovae explosions forming what is now called the Local Hot Bubble region of our galaxy. The second source is within the solar system and is generated by the solar wind charge exchange. DXL seeks to gain a better understanding of the nature and characteristics of these sources."

Launching from Alaska brings important benefits to DXL. A launch from a range near the Earth's magnetic pole allows researchers to take X-ray measurements closer to the region where the solar magnetic field interacts with Earth's magnetic field - especially beneficial when measuring X-rays from solar wind charge exchange . Also, the Alaskan PFRR is unique among US rocket ranges in allowing researchers to wait on the launch pad, ready to fly, for an extended period of time...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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