Home » News » Buzz » This NASA Mission Aims to Unravel the Mystery Surrounding Earth's Cusp Region
1-MIN READ

This NASA Mission Aims to Unravel the Mystery Surrounding Earth's Cusp Region

ASA revealed in a recent statement, that the launch window for CREX-2 opens at 4 am EST (2.30 pm IST) on December 1, 2021.  (Credits: Shutterstock)

ASA revealed in a recent statement, that the launch window for CREX-2 opens at 4 am EST (2.30 pm IST) on December 1, 2021. (Credits: Shutterstock)

The polar cusp region of the earth takes place around local noon time when the Sun is at its highest point, and a funnel-shaped gap in our planet’s magnetic field passes overhead.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth’s atmosphere at high latitudes behaves in a strange manner. Through one of its missions, known as Cusp Region Experiment-2, or CREX-2, NASA is trying to understand the strange phenomena that takes place at the polar cusp region of the earth. The polar cusp region of the earth takes place around local noon time when the Sun is at its highest point, and a funnel-shaped gap in our planet’s magnetic field passes overhead. The gap in that field, called the polar cusp, allows the solar wind a direct line of access to Earth’s atmosphere, which is otherwise protected by the magnetic field.

Scientists have found that the radio and GPS signals behave strangely when they travel through this part of the sky. Scientists and spacecraft operators also noticed that when a spacecraft passes through the cusp they slow down. According to NASA, CREX-2 faced a two-year delay to launch, first because of unfavourable space weather conditions and second time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, now the CREX-2 team is optimistic about the launch. NASA revealed in a recent statement, that the launch window for CREX-2 opens at 4 am EST (2.30 pm IST) on December 1, 2021. The spacecraft will launch from Andenes, Norway.

Explaining how the atmosphere in cusp is different from the rest of the atmosphere around the earth, NASA said that the density of Earth’s atmosphere decreases rapidly with height, but stays consistent horizontally. This means that at any given altitude, the atmosphere has approximately the same density around the world, however, in the cusp, 250 miles overhead, there is a pocket of air one and a half times denser than other air at that altitude.

Mark Conde, a physicist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the principal investigator for CREX-2 says, “You can’t just increase the mass in a region by a factor of 1.5 and do nothing else, or the sky will fall.” NASA suspects that something invisible supports that extra mass, and the CREX-2 mission aims to figure out exactly what it is.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.

first published:November 30, 2021, 12:43 IST