Paula Cleggett-Haleim Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

20546 (Phone: 202/453-1547) Keith Koehler Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. (Phone: 804/824-1579) RELEASE: 90-93

July 6, 1990


NASA will conduct a sounding rocket campaign in the South Pacific over the summer to better understand the Earth's ionosphere in the equatorial regions and the response of the ionosphere to electric fields and plasma cloud injections. Several of the rocket experiments will complement a satellite launch planned for this month. From July 10 through Aug. 23, the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), Wallops Island, Va., of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Md., will launch seven suborbital sounding rockets from the Roi-Namur launch facility in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Four of these sounding rocket experiments will complement the science objectives of the Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite (CRRES), scheduled for launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 17. CRRES is a joint NASA/U.S. Air Force mission that will study the Earth's magnetic field and the effect of space radiation on advanced electronics. The remaining three sounding rocket experiments comprise the Equatorial Ionospheric Studies (EQUIS) program.

The sounding rockets will carry experiments designed to study a region of the ionosphere from 155 to 372 miles above the Earth. The experiments will aid scientists in understanding the chemistry and spatial structures of the ionosphere and the fundamental physics of ionosphere disturbances and turbulence in the equatorial regions. - more -2The campaign scientist is Dr. Michael Mendillo of Boston University, and the campaign manager is Jay F. Brown of WFF. Seventy-two people from Wallops and the science community will be involved in the campaign. The first series of two experiments, involving four rockets, is part of the CRRES program. These rockets will be launched between July 20 and July 23 and between Aug. 10 and Aug. 23 in launch windows that extend from sunset to two hours after sunset. Each experiment will consist of two Taurus-Nike-Tomahawk sounding rocket launches. In each pair, the first rocket's payload will release 75 pounds of sulfurhexaflouride between 215 and 280 miles altitude. The chemical cloud will not be visible to the eye but will be detectable by low-light-level cameras. The second rocket payload of each pair is instrumented to measure the disturbances produced by the chemical release in the ionosphere. The rocket will be launched eight to 25 minutes after the first rocket, depending on the drift of the chemical cloud. Ground-based radars and optical sensors also will be used from sites on Kwajalein, Wake Island, and Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia. For the CRRES experiments, Dr. Mendillo is the principal investigator and Brown is the payload manager. The EQUIS component of the Kwajalein Campaign involves three rocket launches. The first two of these experiments (called

"Spread F") will occur between July 25 and Aug. 8. The launch window is from one hour before sunset until midnight. Two Terrier-Malemute sounding rockets will carry these payloads to 300 miles altitude. The Spread-F payloads are identical and designed to measure the electric fields and spatial structures in the ionosphere. The rockets will launch during ionospheric disturbances that often occur in the equatorial regions. The principal investigators for these experiments are Dr. Robert F. Pfaff, Jr. of GSFC and Professor Michael C. Kelly, Cornell University. The payload manager for both rockets is Geoff Bland of WFF. The third EQUIS experiment, the Negative Ion and Cation Release Experiment (NICARE) will be launched on a Black Brant IX sounding rocket between Aug. 9 and Aug. 22. The launch window runs for 60 seconds shortly after dusk. - more -

-3The NICARE payload will eject 24.5 pounds of a barium-thermite mixture at about 215 miles altitude during its ascent and will release 65 pounds of sulfurhexaflouride at 210 miles during its descent. The barium-thermite mixture will produce a blue-green cloud that may be visible as far as 600 miles from Kwajalein. The second chemical will not be visible to the eye, but will be detectable by sensitive ground-based optical systems. The NICARE instruments will measure the effects the chemicals have on the ionosphere. Additional data will be obtained from ground-based observation sites within the Marshall Islands. The principal investigator for the experiment is Dr. Paul Bernhardt from the Naval Research Laboratory and the payload

manager is Phil Eberspeaker from WFF. The Kwajalein campaign is part of the overall NASA Sounding Rocket program, which is managed at WFF. The program consists of approximately 30 sounding rockets launched each year from various worldwide locations. The overall CRRES program is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications. - end -

EDITORS NOTE: Available to the media only are three photos available in either Color or Black and White of CRRES/EQUIS sounding rocket and payload processing and testing: WI-90-255-1 Terrier-Malemute nose cone deployment test. WI-90-279-9 Terrier-Malemute telemetry section assembly. WI-90-279-4 Black Brant IX spin/balance test. Material can be obtained by calling Wallops Flight Facility Public Affairs Office, 804/824-1579. NASA news releases and other NASA information is available electronically on CompuServe and GEnie, the General Electric Network for Information Exchange. For information on CompuServe, call 1-800-848-8199 and ask for representative 176. For information on GEnie, call 1-800-638-9636.

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