Published: Sun, September 23, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

NASA balloon mission may help improve weather forecasting..

NASA balloon mission may help improve weather forecasting..

According to NASA, these rare electric blue clouds are sensitive to environmental factors including temperature and water vapor levels, so a normal airflow over the mountains or bolts of lightning can disturb the Earth's atmosphere and trigger gravity waves which, at their turn impact on the weather and climate. With this occasion, the USA space agency's scientists released a snap of those rare electric blue clouds.

The information will help the scientists better understand both the turbulence in our planet's upper atmosphere as well as the nature of turbulence in fluids elsewhere in the universe.

"From what we've seen so far", said Dave Fritts, principal investigator of the PMC Turbo in a statement, "we expect to have a really spectacular dataset from this mission".

The clouds are only visible during twilight, when the angle of the sun reflects off them and causes them to shine a bright electric blue or white colour. Take, for instance, so-called "noctilucent" clouds - NASA had to fly a giant balloon into the sky, over 80km high, to get its images.

Over the course of a five-day mission, a NASA research balloon captured pictures of these clouds in the mesosphere - near to the very edge of space. For five days, the balloon floated through the stratosphere from its launch at Esrange, Sweden, across the Arctic to Western Nunavut, Canada.

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NASA has recently launched a balloon mission to study these unusual clouds in our atmosphere.

These noctilucent clouds, or polar mesospheric clouds (PMCs), form in the summer, when ice crystals come together on tiny meteor particles in the mesosphere.

But apart from their stellar origins and beauty, what makes these clouds even more interesting is the fact they're affected by atmospheric gravity waves.

"At these altitudes you can literally see the gravity waves breaking - like ocean waves on the beach - and cascading to turbulence". The seven imaging systems were arranged to create a mosaic of wide views extending one hundred miles across, with each narrow views able to image turbulence features as small as 20 yards wide.

It turned out that the color of the clouds that is dark gray to blue, is influenced by the presence of shards of ice in the atmosphere. AIM tracks extensive scale includes in the clouds over a worldwide scale, however, can just goal includes several miles over. PMC Turbo helps fill in the points of interest, clarifying what occurs at littler scales where turbulence happens.

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