Michael Braukus Headquarters, Washington, D.C. July 22, 1991 (Phone: 202 / 453-1549 ) Keith A.

Koehler Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. ( Phone: 804 / 824-1579) RELEASE: 91-115 NASA ROCKETS TO SUPPORT INTERNATIONAL CLOUD STUDY Seven NASA sounding rockets will be part of an international campaign to study polar Noctilucent Clouds (NLC), the highest and coldest clouds on Earth, from Kiruna, Sweden, July 25 through August 12, 1991. During this 20-day period, researchers from the United States and Europe will use aircraft, ground-based radars and rockets launched from the Swedish Space Corporation managed ESRANGE Facility in Kiruna, to study NLC. These clouds occur near an altitude of 52 miles only during summer periods at northern polar latitudes. The purpose of the campaign is to gain an understanding of NLC and their relationship to Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes (PMSE), unusual reflections of radar signals by the atmosphere. These signals have been obtained by ground-based radars in the area, according to the United States' Principal Investigator Dr. Richard Goldberg. Dr. Goldberg, who is on a two-year assignment to the National Science Foundation from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said the campaign is the largest ever undertaken to study these clouds and their relationship to the physics of the region.

Sounding rockets, with complementary U.S. and European payloads, will be prepared for two launch sequences. The nighttime launches are expected to occur between midnight and 6 a.m. local time. The first sequence is planned for launch when NLC are clearly visible, during or without the simultaneous occurrence of PMSE. The second sequence will be launched when PMSE are reported to be very strong, with or without the observation of NLC. -more-2According to campaign manager Geoff Bland, from Goddard's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., the NASA rockets for both sequences will be a Super Arcas, Nike-Orion and a Black Brant VB. A third Super Arcas will be launched independently to further investigate the scattering mechanism of PMSE. The Europeans will have three Nike-Orions in the first sequence and one Nike-Orion in the second. In addition, NASA and European ViperDart meteorological rockets will be launched before and after both sequences. The three NASA Super Arcas rockets will carry identical Mesospheric Ionization Structure and Turbulence Investigation (MISTI) payloads. The scientific objective of these flights is to obtain electron density profiles which will provide insight on the nature of both NLC and PMSE. The principal investigator for the MISTI is Dr. James Ulwick, from Utah State University. The two NASA Nike-Orion sounding rockets will carry identical Penn State University Electrodynamics Payloads. These payloads, which will be recovered, will measure electric fields and properties, particles and the ionization background. The principal investigator is Dr. John Mitchell, from Penn State University. The final two NASA sounding rockets (Black Brant VBs) will carry identical Electric-Field payloads, including U.S. and European instruments. Each payload, which also will be recovered, consists of two separate payloads in a mother/daughter configuration. The daughter section is ejected on ascent to permit isolation of electric field

measurements from the main payload. The main payload, the mother section, will measure electric fields, ionizing nighttime radiations, ion and electron density and conductivity, and NLC structure. Ascent and descent measurements will be taken by both the mother and daughter payloads. The principal investigator for the Electric-Field payloads is Dr. Richard Goldberg. The European payloads will measure ion composition and water clusters, NLC properties, and small scale waves and turbulence. The meteorological rockets will provide accurate wind and temperature data within the main region of interest. This campaign is part of the NASA Sounding Rocket Program which is managed at Goddard's Wallops Flight Facility. An average of 35 scientific missions are conducted annually from sites worldwide. - end NOTE TO EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS: A still photograph to accompany this release may be obtained by calling NASA Headquarters Broadcast and Audio Visual Branch, (202) 453-8373 (B&W 91-H-597, Color 91-HC-509).