Technology: NASA to launch tiny satellites to study 'bubbles' in upper atmosphere - PressFrom - US
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TechnologyNASA to launch tiny satellites to study 'bubbles' in upper atmosphere

19:45  18 june  2019
19:45  18 june  2019 Source:   nbcnews.com

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NASA scientists and engineers named their new CubeSat after the mythological Norse god of the dawn. Now, just days from launch , they are Dellingr will study how the ionosphere, a region in Earth’s upper atmosphere , interacts with the Sun. Before launch , Dellingr is required to visit to the

Dellingr will study how the ionosphere, a region in Earth’s upper atmosphere , interacts with the Sun. Before launch , Dellingr is required to visit to the Magnetic Test Facility at NASA Goddard to test the spacecraft's magnetometers - key instruments for measuring the direction and strength of the

NASA to launch tiny satellites to study 'bubbles' in upper atmosphere© NASA Image: NASA's twin E-TBEx cubesats will study how charged particles in the ionosphere, shown in this visualization, affect satellites.

NASA will be launching two identical miniature satellites next week as part of a project designed to help scientists understand how Earth's atmosphere muddies the radio signals we rely on for communication and navigation.

The pair will be among a total of 24 satellites launching aboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket as it soars into space for the third time, with a launch date currently scheduled for June 24 after some delays. The two identical spacecraft are cubesats, which are miniature satellites originally used only in low Earth orbit but are now sometimes used for interplanetary missions.

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NASA 's Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment, or E-TBEx, will launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket next week in order to study how Earth's atmosphere The complex recipe means that Earth's upper atmosphere and the bubbles that form there respond to several different factors, including

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These twin satellites, called E-TBEx, short for Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment, will stay close to home. As they orbit close to Earth, they'll provide scientists with essential information about how radio signals can be disrupted as they pass through the planet's upper atmosphere.

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Earth's ionosphere, a layer in the upper atmosphere that is bombarded by solar and cosmic radiation and therefore full of charged particles, contains "structured bubbles." These bubbles can distort radio signals, interfering with military and airline communications, as well as GPS signals, NASA said in a statement, particularly over the equator.

As we learn more about these bubbles, we'll be able to avoid the signal problems they cause, according to NASA. But right now, scientists don't know when the bubbles will form or how they'll change over time. "These bubbles are difficult to study from the ground," Rick Doe, payload program manager for the E-TBEx mission, said in the statement. "If you see the bubbles start to form, they then move."

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NASA scientists and engineers named their new CubeSat after the mythological Norse god of the dawn. Now, just days from launch , they are confident the shoebox-sized satellite Dellingr will live up Dellingr will study how the ionosphere, a region in Earth’s upper atmosphere , interacts with the Sun.

NASA scientists and engineers named their new CubeSat after the mythological Norse god of the dawn. Now, just days from launch , they are confident the shoebox-sized satellite Dellingr will live up Dellingr will study how the ionosphere, a region in Earth’s upper atmosphere , interacts with the Sun.

NASA's hope is that the E-TBEx satellites will be able to study the evolution of the bubbles before they begin to distort radio waves, Doe said. That would help scientists better understand the underlying physics of the bubbles.

Scientists already know those physics have something to do with the ionized particles in this layer of the Earth's atmosphere. Particles in the ionosphere are separated into a "sea of positive and negative particles, called plasma," NASA said in the statement. The plasma is mixed with neutral gases like the air we breathe.

NASA to launch tiny satellites to study 'bubbles' in upper atmosphere© University of Michigan / Michigan Exploration Lab Image: E-TBEx's deployment is tested at the Michigan Exploration Lab. Constructing and testing the E-TBEx CubeSats was particularly complex because of the multiple antennas and solar panels that deploy after launch.

The complex recipe means that Earth's upper atmosphere and the bubbles that form there respond to several different factors, including electric and magnetic fields and both terrestrial and space weather. Scientists believe that pressure waves from large storm systems can reach up into the ionosphere and create winds that can shape how the bubbles move and form. The charged particles of the plasma would also be affected by space weather, which can affect electric and magnetic fields.

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Last Thursday, NASA successfully launched it's latest mission, GOLD, a project aimed at studying the weather in Earth's upper atmosphere . The ionosphere is home to radio signals that guide aircraft and ships, along with satellites that provide communication and GPS systems.

NASA scientists and engineers named their new CubeSat after the mythological Norse god of the dawn. Now, just days from launch , they are confident the shoebox-sized satellite Dellingr will live up Dellingr will study how the ionosphere, a region in Earth’s upper atmosphere , interacts with the Sun.

The twin E-TBEx satellites will send radio signals at three frequencies, all close to those used by communications and GPS satellites, according to NASA. Those signals will be sent to receiving stations on the ground, allowing scientists to detect tiny changes in the signals' phase or amplitude. Scientists will then be able to map the disruptions back to the region of the ionosphere they passed through.

"All signals are created at the same time — with the same phase — so you can tell how they get distorted in passing through the bubbles," Doe said. "Then, by looking at the distortions, you can back out information about the amount of roughness and the density in the bubbles."

The two satellites aboard Falcon Heavy are joined by similar beacons onboard NOAA's six COSMIC-2 satellites. A combination of measurements from all eight satellites will allow scientists to study the distortions from multiple angles simultaneously.

Scientists hope that the project will help them develop strategies to avoid signal distortion. For example, NASA said, airlines could potentially choose a radio frequency for communications that is less susceptible to influence from the bubbles or the military could postpone an important operation until a disruptive ionospheric bubble has passed.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy's night launch pushed to no earlier than June 24: Report

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Two NASA -sponsored satellites are headed into Earth's upper atmosphere to obtain information on the data and temperature of this relatively unstudied area Thus far, information about the far reaches of Earth’s upper atmosphere has been limited. Ars Technica reports that the last time we really got a

NASA has announced that it would launch two missions to explore the little-understood area of 96 km above Earth’s surface. GOLD will also explore how the upper atmosphere reacts to geomagnetic storms, which are temporary disturbances of Earth’s magnetic field caused by solar activity.

Visit Space.com on June 24 for complete coverage of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch and the payloads on board.

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