<div align="left" style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px">Space Instrumentation Lab</div>

STORMS

Utah State University is a co-investigator on a NASA sounding rocket mission titled “Investigation of Mid-Latitude Ionospheric Irregularities Associated with Terrestrial Weather Systems,” led by Dr. Greg Earl of the University of Texas Dallas. The program is typically referred to as the “Storms” mission, for short.

The sounding rocket will be launched in the fall of 2006 from Wallops Island, VA to an altitude of 450 km. Utah State is providing instruments to measure the electron temperature, density, and electron-neutral collision frequency along the flight path of the payload through the ionosphere. The UTD instrumentation will measure electric fields and the direction and strength of neutral winds at the payload. The flight will be timed to occur over a large cell of thunderstorms or possibly a tropical storm system, if fortunate.

The science question to be addressed by the "Storms" mission is, how do terrestrial weather systems occurring in the troposphere change and effect the ionosphere, hundreds of km above them. The mechanism is thought to be caused by atmospheric buoyancy waves, which propagate upwards, generated by the storm. These waves are commonly referred to as gravity waves in the scientific literature.

There are two sets of observations that the "Storms" mission is attempting to reconcile and further explain.

  1. The spread in altitude signatures in ionosonde (or dynasonde) observations of the reflection height of low frequency radio waves.
  2. Density structures observed by previous sounding rocket flights over thunderstorms.

The Utah State University instruments form a suite capable of making simultaneous measurements of electron density, electron-neutral collision frequency, electron and ion temperatures, vehicle floating potential, and electric field measurements.
These five instruments are all located on a sub payload
and will consist of ...
  • Plasma Frequency Probe (PFP),
  • Sweeping Impedance Probe (SIP),
  • DC Langmuir probe (DCP),
  • Sweeping Langmuir Probe (SLP), and
  • Floating Potential Probe (FPP).