Longmont Astronomical Society

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LAS Monthly Meeting via Zoom

  • January 21, 2021
  • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Zoom

The Super Soaker Sounding Rocket Experiment:

How to Artificially Create Polar Mesospheric Clouds

 by Irfan Azeem 

In this presentation, I will discuss something that astronomers usually avoid: clouds. I will describe a recent NASA sounding rocket experiment that was designed to artificially create high altitude clouds, called polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs). The Earth’s upper atmosphere (above 80 km altitude) is typically an extremely dry place, with water vapor mixing ratios measured in parts per million near 85 km altitude. The introduction of large quantities of water to the upper atmosphere, for example from rocket exhausts, can produce unexpected effects including the formation of PMCs. To better understand how concentrated water vapor parcels lead to PMC formation, NASA supported a rocket experiment called Supersoaker. Supersoaker was launched on 26 January 2018 from Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska and explosively released 200 kg of water vapor at 85 km altitude in a coordinated ground-based campaign to measure mesospheric clouds, temperature changes, and wind changes in response to the water vapor release. In this talk, I will present some highlights of the rocket experiment and the major advancement in our understanding of the generation of these PMCs.

Dr. Azeem is Chief Scientist at the Atmospheric and Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA) in Louisville, CO.

7:00 PM Zoom virtual meeting for January on Thursday, the 21st; join us.

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