Why is it in the news?
- Atmospheric Wave Experiment (AWE) is a NASA experiment designed to explore the interaction between terrestrial and space weather.
More about the Mission
- AWE will examine airglow, which refers to colourful bands of light in Earth’s atmosphere.
- It aims to determine the combination of forces that drive space weather in the upper atmosphere.
- AWE will measure Atmospheric Gravity Waves (AGWs) specifically at the mesopause, an atmospheric layer starting at an altitude of around 87 km.
- AGWs are waves that result from the interplay between buoyancy lifting air upward and gravity bringing it back down. These waves play a crucial role in various atmospheric processes, including cloud formation and clear sky promotion.
- AGWs are formed due to different processes, including airflow over mountains, convection (such as thunderstorms), and frontal systems. They serve as connectors between different parts of the atmosphere and can influence phenomena like surface storms and changes in the ionosphere.
- Studying AGWs in the upper atmosphere and their interaction with other atmospheric phenomena like the jet stream and polar vortex can have several benefits:
- Understanding these interactions can lead to improved weather predictions.
- It can enhance climate models, helping scientists better understand and predict long-term climate patterns.
· Space weather refers to variations in the space environment between the sun and Earth.
· The sun is the primary source of space weather, and disturbances are often caused by solar flares and geomagnetic storms.
· Space weather can have significant impacts on various technologies and systems, including power grids, radio and satellite-based communication, navigation, and GPS.
- The AWE mission is significant because it contributes to our understanding of the complex interactions between different layers of Earth’s atmosphere and their implications for both terrestrial and space weather.
- This knowledge can lead to advancements in weather forecasting, climate modelling, and the mitigation of space weather-related impacts on critical technologies and infrastructure.