NASA has been constantly working on satellites that can help scientists study the Earth-sized electric generator, known as the atmospheric dynamo, that is in the ionosphere about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface.
Scientists from the space agency are planning to set off two different rockets that will be launched on two different dates for the Dynamo-2 mission. The rockets will come in sync with the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite to get an in-depth analysis in understanding the atmospheric dynamo.
Atmospheric Dynamo Explained
The atmospheric dynamo is the Earth-sized electric generator that is located next to the magnetic field and flows in the planet's ionosphere, according to Britannica. Due to the intense radiation coming from the Sun, it separates the electrons from the atoms and allows the electricity to flow.
The ionosphere is primarily formed by the action of the sunlight to the atmospheric particles, wherein it produces partially ionized gas or plasma. When the Sun heats the ionosphere at high temperatures, it flows away from noon to midnight in a radial pattern which moves the neutral atoms and charged particles across the magnetic field lines.
The form of the resulting electric field distribution is directly related to the distribution of ionospheric conductivity and magnetic field. That could mean that the night side of the Earth does not experience electric flow as there is little ionospheric conductivity.
In general, like the dynamo invented by Michael Faraday, the atmospheric dynamo works with the magnetic field, a conductor, and motion. These three things are found in abundance in the atmosphere at a much larger scale as it covers the whole world. Scientists first discovered the magnetic field and motion to be responsible for this natural electric generation, according to India Today.
NASA Set to Launch Dynamo-2 Mission
In 2013, NASA scientists launched their first dynamo mission in collaboration with the Japanese Space Agency and several US universities. The mission involved two rockets that lifted off 15 seconds apart carrying scientific instruments to measure the electric fields in the winds.
This time, however, the Dynamo-2 mission will be using two rockets that will be launched at two separate dates unlike the first one to capture the current when it is flowing in different directions.
The RepublicWorld.com reported that the Dynamo-2 mission will take off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, which could happen between July 6- 20 as they will be launched on two separate dates.
The confirmed flight was on July 6 during the launch window, while the second one is likely between July 7-13 from 10 am to 2 pm EDT. But if it is not possible, NASA could use the third launch window on July 14-20.
Spectators may witness the launch on the Wallops YouTube channel and see as the Dynamo-2 mission rockets take off as it had been confirmed that the facility will be shut for the launch.
RELATED ARTICLE: NASA Seeks to Improve GPS Communications with Study of Ionosphere
Check out more news and information on Space on Science Times.