During weather segments here at ABC-13, our team of meteorologists often point out the jet stream. This is a fast moving (50 to 175mph) river of air around 6 miles high in the sky. The jet stream usually separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south. It also helps to push storm systems across our country. But there is second jet stream…
Scientists in the 1960s have observed a different high speed jet stream that crosses the earth very high in the sky. It's located about 60 miles above the earth's surface and contains winds up to 300mph and sometimes stronger. There is not much known about this jet stream; however these winds do contain electrical currents and have been notorious for affect orbiting satellites and communications around the world.
Early Tuesday, March 27, NASA launched five special rockets from Wallops Island, VA to blast through this high level and fast moving jet stream in an effort to learn more about the winds. This study has been named the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment, or ATREX. NASA scientists engineered these rockets to detect pressure and temperature during the flight. While traveling through the second jet stream the rockets released chemicals to form a cloud so researchers can see the movement and turbulence inside the wind.
The data has now been gathered and scientists are examining the information to get a better understanding of these high level extreme winds. Over time, researchers hope to comprehensively explain what causes the intense jet stream and the electromagnetic fields surrounding it. Also having the new knowledge of how it behaves, it will help keep our satellites and world-wide communications from being disrupted in the years ahead.