This is SCIENCE!
(glad to see NASA still has enough cash to quietly get on with a few things at least)
NASA is planning to light up the night sky in the next month, sending five rockets at the same time to the edge of space to find out more about the jet stream winds that circle the planet. The space agency is waiting for a clear night between 14 March and 4 April to blast off the five sounding rockets, known as the Anomalous …
That is is down to the rotation of the Earth and the atmosphere at that altitude being quite thin.
On another note, maybe LOHAN should be offered to NASA as part of the experiment, only £5million in funding and they can reap the benefits of first hand comments from the playmonaut.
You seem to be thinking of the lower jet streams, which were discovered something like 70 years ago, and are fairly well understood. Here we are looking at winds at an altitude of about 60 miles - close to what most of us consider space, in very thin atmosphere. They're a lot less well-understood; yes, the Earth rotation plays a role, but so, apparently, do high-altitude electric currents, possible in this thin atmosphere because it is partly ionized.
To the pragmatist, it's really not quite clear what NASA is trying to find out, of course: These winds don't really harm anybody, or have much practical relevance for that matter. But we'll see. The same was thought of many things.
Merlin: Blow me to Bermuda!
[Merlin suddenly blasts off like a rocket]
Arthur: Where... Where did he go?
Archimedes the Owl: To Bermuda, I suppose.
Arthur: Where's that?
Archimedes the Owl: Oh, an island way off somewhere that hasn't been discovered yet.
Arthur: Will he ever come back?
Archimedes the Owl: Who knows? Who knows anything?
The atmosphere is under constant erosion. It is stirred from below by Earth's rotation and blown away at the top by solar wind. Solar radiation ionizes all atmospheric molecules, Nitrogen14 becomes Carbon14 being the most familiar. In the last 60 million years Earth has lost half of its atmosphere by these two process, witness the wingspan of Pterodctyal to today's condor. The Moons polar ice caps are accretions of the leeward transit thru this solar blown former Earth air. All Paleo-climatology is thus incorrect extrapolation of today's conditions to a past that never existed.
It will be fascinating to know to what extent magnetohydrodynamic processes are involved. For example, is the apparent lack of turbulence seen when shuttle exhaust is observed due to eddy current damping by the Earth's magnetic field? And does the pinch effect play a part in keeping the jet streams concentrated?
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