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P-21A Press Kit

P-21A Press Kit

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Published by Bob Andrepont

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 18, 2011
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02/18/2011

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A
ANATIONAL
AERONA'
*
mCS
AND
SPACE
ADMINISTRATION
1520
H
STREET.NORTHWEST
WASHINGTON
25.
D.
C.
TELEPHONES:
DUDLEY
2-6325
EXECUTIVE
3-3260
FORRELEASE:
March
23,
1962
Release
No.
62-71
Friday,
2:30
PM
SECOND
IONOSPHERE
PROBE
The
NationalAeronautics
andSpace
Administrationwill
attempt
to
launch,
no
earlier
than
March
28,
1962,
the
second
in
a
series
of
ionospheremeasurement
probes
using
the
four-
stagesolid
fuel
Scout
rocket.
The
P-21A
experiment
is
designed
to
measure
the
electrondensity
profile,
ion
density
and
type
ofions
in
the
ionosphere,
the
region
where
some
radiosignalsare
reflectedback
toearth.
High
radio
frequencies
are
known
to
penetrate
the
ionosphere.Such
basic
researchcould
lead
to
improvedcommunications
on
earth
and
betweenvehicles
in
space.
The
90-poundexperimentwill
be
launchedfrom
NASA's
WallopsIslandaroundmidnightwhencharacteristics
of
the
ionosphere
di.ffer
drasticallyfrom
its
daytime
state.
An
alti-
tude
of
about4,000
miles
is
expected
for
the
planned85-minute
flight.
Since
there
will
be
telemetrythroughout
theflight,
it
willnot
be
necessary
to
recover
the
payload.The
P-21
experimentdetermined
the
concentration
of
elec-
trons
as
a
function
of
altitudeduring
thedaytime.It
was
successfullylaunched
by
a
developmental
Scouton
October
19,
reaching
a
peakaltitude
of
4,261miles.
Electrondensity
was
obtained
to
about1,500
miles
marking
the
first
timesuch
specific
measurementshad
been
made
at
this
altitude.
NASAscientists
at
a
press
conferencetodayoutlined
ac-
complishments
oftheP-21
probe
which,
along
with
discoveriesfromother
NASAprograms,have
contributed
to
world
scientificconcepts
of
the
upper
ionosphere.
P-21
Project
Scientists
have
announced
the
following
findings:
1.
P-21
confirmed
the
existence
ofthe
heliumregion
and
measured
the
lowerboundary
ofthe
layer.
On
that
particularday
it
beganabout
700miles
above
the
earth's
surface.
 
2.
Simultaneously,P-21
measured
the
temperatureof
the
upper
atmosphere
and
found
it
to
be
fairly
constantat
2,000
F
from
about
300
to
1,800
miles
where
measurement
ceasedbecause
of radio
frequency
interference.
3.
Scientists
can
now
theoretically
predict
that
the
lower
boundary
ofthe
hellium
layer varies
with
temperature
be-cause
of
new
data
receivedfrom
P-21,
Goddard's
Explorer
VIII
Ionospheric
measurement
satellite,and
analysis
of
a
Scout
flight
on
October
4,
1960
made
by
Hanson
of
Lockheed
under
aNASA
contract.To
test
thistheory,
P-21A
will
be
launched
one
day
next
week
around midnightwhen
the
temperature
of
the
ionosphereis
much
cooler.
Theoretically,projectscientistsexpect
to
find
that
the
altitude
of
the
lower
boundary
ofthe
helium
layer
shoulddrop
down
to
500miles,
comparedwith
the
P-21
Scout
daytime
measurement
ofabout
700
miles.
Temperature
should
drop
down
to
about
1100
0
F.
To
assistscientists
in
determiningwhere
helium
ions are
outnumberedby
the
hydrogen
ions of
outer
space,the
P-21A
will
carry
an
additional
experiment--an
ion
trap--similar
to
that
flown
on
the
Explorer
VIII
satellite.
S. J.
Bauer
andJ. E.
Jackson,
NASA scientists responsible
for
the
P-21 program,
explained
that
previously
itwas
general-ly
accepted
by
scientists
that
hydrogen
was
the
mostimportant
atmospheric
constituent
at
altitudes
around
700
miles.However,NASA's
Explorer
VIII,
instrumented
by
the
Plane-
tary
Ionospheres
Branch
at
Goddard
and launched
November
3,
1960,
gave
experimental
evidence
on
the
presence
of
helium
ions above
900
miles.
About
thesame
time,Dr.
W. B. Hanson
of
LockheedMissiles
and
SpaceDivision,
working
under
NASA
contract,
presented
the sametype
of
evidence
based
on
hiein-
terpretation
ofan
ion-density
profile
obtained
onScoutlaunch
#2
fired
on
October
4,
1960.
Previously,
Dr.
Marcel
Nicolet
of
Belgium
inthe
Spring
of1961
postulated
the
same
hypothesis
in
order
to
explain
the
slow
decrease
of
neutral
atmospheric
density
above
450
milesinferredfrom
the
NASA
Echo
I
balloon
satellite.
Dr.
Bauer and
Mr.
Jackson
said
that
it
now
appears
that
between
150
to
700
miles
ionized
oxygen
isthe
predominant
ionized
consultuent.At
lower
altitudes,
molecular
oxygen
and
nitric
oxide
ionsare also
present.
About
700 miles
there
is
a
transition
from
oxygen
ions
to
helium
ionsand
-ior
more
than
-2-
(over)
 
1,000
miles helium appears
to
be
the
predominant
constituent.On
the
basis
of
theoretical
estimates,they
said,
a
transition
may
occur
at
about 2,000 miles from
helium
to
hydrogenwhich
is
the
principal
constituent~.of
interplanetary
space.
P-21AProbe
Description
This
eight-sided spacecraft
is
the last
of
the
NASA
P-21
series
of
four rocket flights
to
investigateionosphericcnaracteristics
of
importance
to
radio
communication,
radio
trackingand
guidance, and
to
add
to
the
basic
understanding
of
the
earth's
ionosphere.
In the
ionosphere,
incomingradiations from
the
sun
collidewith
atoms
of
gases,releasing
free
electronsand positive
ions,
creatingreflective
layers
for
radiosignals.
If
it
were
.not
for
the
ionosphere,long range radio
communicationwould
not
be possible.
Ionosphericdata
is
veryscarcebetween
200
milesand
600miles,
andvirtuallynon-existentabove
the
latter
altitude.Significantresultscould
be
obtained
if
only
help
the
planned altitude
is
achieved.
Three probes
have
alreadybeen fired
in
the series.
On
April
27,
an
Argo D-4 rocketreached
an
altitude
of450
milesand
gavean
excellentprofile
of
electron densitiesduringmid-
day,
for
a
quietionosphere.
Another
D-4
was
fired
in June
to
compare nighttimeelectrondensities with
the
daytime
data
obtained
previously, but
rocketfailure kept
if
from
achieving
its objectives.The
P-21
firing
on
October
19
measured
day-time
electron
concentration. P-21A
will chart
the
nighttime
profile.P-21A
contains
threeexperiments:
A
CW(continuous
wave)
Propagation Experimentwill attempt
to
determine
electron
density
and
associated parameters
of the
ionosphere.
A
Swept-
Frequency
Probe will
attempt directmeasurement
of
electron
density.
A
PositiveIon
Experimentwill attempt
to
determineion
concentration.
Secondary objectives
of
the
flight
are
to
test
the
performance
of
newionosphericgroundstations
at
Blossom
Point,
Md.
and
Wallops
Island.
In
the
CW
experiment,
two
radiosignalsare
transmittedfrom
the
rocket
to
a
receivingstation
on
the
ground
at
fre-
quencies
of
12.3
Mc
(1.5
watts
of
power)and
73.6
Me (0.7watts).
Thehigherfrequency
is
essentially
unaffectedby
the
ionosphereandshould provide
a
referencewith
which
to
compare
the
low
frequency
transmission.The
lowerfrequencywill beaffectedconsiderablyby
the
physical conditions
ofthe
ionosphere,
-3-
(over)

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