US Space Agency Launches Rockets to Study High-Altitude Jet Stream

Posted March 27th, 2012 at 11:40 am (UTC-5)
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The U.S. space agency NASA has launched five rockets from the eastern state of Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream.

The rockets blasted off early Tuesday morning more than a minute apart. NASA says the mission, known as the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), will help scientists understand the process responsible for the jet stream, which is located about 100 kilometers above the Earth's surface in a region with a lot of electrical turbulence.

Each rocket released a chemical tracer forming white clouds that NASA said would allow scientists and the public to “see” the winds in space. After the launch, a NASA statement said the clouds were seen across much of the U.S. eastern seaboard.

Two of the rockets are also equipped to measure the pressure and temperature at the height of the high-speed winds.

The high-altitude jet stream is higher than the one typically reported in weather forecasts with winds up to more than 480 kilometers per hour. The jet stream is located in a region with strong electrical currents capable of disrupting satellite and radio communications.