NASA will launch rockets into the annular solar eclipse’s shadow on October
14 as portions of the Earth are plunged into partial darkness.
In many regions of North and South America, on October 14, observers will witness the Sun
decreasing to roughly 10% of its usual brightness, leaving only a dazzling “ring of fire” when the
annular eclipse takes place. However, people living close to the White Sands Missile Range in
New Mexico will also notice three rockets that NASA plans to launch when they suddenly
brighten and flash across the sky in the direction of the eclipse.
Three rockets will be launched as part of the space agency’s sounding rocket mission to
investigate how our planet’s upper atmosphere is impacted by the abrupt decrease in sunlight.
The project is known as APEP, or Atmospheric Perturbations around the Eclipse Path. Between
48 and 965 kilometers above sea level, the ionosphere—the ionized portion of the atmosphere—
can be found.
The UV light from the Sun separates electrons from atoms in that region of the atmosphere,
resulting in the formation of ions and electrons. The Sun’s steady energy prevents these particles,
which are attracted to one another, from separating throughout the day. However, they might
combine once more into neutral atoms once the Sun sets. At sunrise, they are then ionized once
Chandrayaan-3’s night is Gaganyaan’s fresh dawn
Numerous instruments detected air changes during a total solar eclipse that was visible in North America
in 2017, even those hundreds of kilometers outside the eclipse’s path. This also applied to crucial
infrastructure that we depend on every day, such as GPS and communication satellites. This is so
because the ionosphere serves as the conduit for all satellite communication. It is crucial to comprehend
and model any ionosphere-related disturbances in order to predict their potential effects as we become
more and more dependent on space-based assets like those.
Three rockets will be launched as part of the APEP mission, the first around 35 minutes prior to the peak
eclipse, the second during the peak, and the third about 35 minutes following. Four little scientific
devices measuring density, temperature, and alterations in the electric and magnetic fields will be
launched by each rocket.