The first GCI M/LT sounding Rockets – G. Lemacher, Clemson Univ. – “VortEx”

NASA has approved the sounding rocket experiment “VortEx” to be launched from Andoya Space Center in January/February 2022. The project is currently in the design phase. On two launch nights we plan to launch two rocket each, with instrumented and chemical release payloads, to study gravity wave breaking and mesoscale dynamics below and above the mesopause. Key region is 80 to 140 km. It is supported by ground-based airglow and temperature imaging, lidars and meteor radars. The novel techniques such as chemical release ejectable ampules, and multiple radar transmitters and receivers have the common goal to perform horizontally distributed observations of winds. This experiment is highly relevant for the Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (GC/MLT), since it addresses important science questions collected in the Grand Challenge white paper. It may be seen as initial start of the GCI/MLT and to field-test new rocket and ground based techniques that may find wider application in the following years. Principal Investigator is Gerald Lehmacher with Co-PIs from Clemson University, Embry-Riddle University, Utah State University and Institute for Atmospheric Physics. More information can be found in Lehmacher et al., Proc. 24th. Symp. Europ. Rocket and Balloon Progr., ESA SP-742, October 2019.