NASA is set to launch two satellites later next week using SpaceX Falcon Heavy spacecraft to help researchers on how Earth’s atmosphere disrupts signals sent from space or different tasks which require radio signals.
In case you didn’t know, ionosphere is referred to the upper part of Earth’s atmosphere filled with charged particles that are created due to solar and cosmic radiations. These particles create bubbles which reacts to electric and magnetic fields. This phenomenon ends up interfering with our military and radio signals.
With the launch of the twin satellites, scientists are expecting that they will be able to learn more about the bubbles. “These bubbles are difficult to study from the ground,” said Rick Doe, payload program manager for the E-TBEx mission. “If you see the bubbles start to form, they then move. We’re studying the evolution of these features before they begin to distort the radio waves going through the ionosphere to better understand the underlying physics.”
Doe continues, “All signals are created at the same time — with the same phase — so you can tell how they get distorted in passing through the bubbles. Then, by looking at the distortions, you can back out information about the amount of roughness and the density in the bubbles.”
NASA expects that as these two satellites will join six others in the Earth’s atmosphere, scientists will be able to study disruption more easily. This will ultimately help scientists develop strategies to avoid signal disruptions in future.