Mesosphere Turbulence Experiment (MTeX)


NASA MTeX mission addresses the fundamental question of contribution of wave-generated turbulence to energetics and mixing in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) in the presence of persistent regions of stability and instability. The MTeX mission achieves the above objectives by two similar instrumented rocket campaigns aided by comprehensive ground based measurements from the Poker Flat Rocket Range.

The rockets were launched with a time gap of 35 minutes into a persistent mesosphere inversion layer on the morning of Jan 26, 2015. Each instrumented rocket consists of multi-Surface fixed bias DC Langmuir probe (mDCP), Swept Impedance Probe (SIP), Sweeping Langmuir Probe (SLP), and the CONE (Combined measurement of Neutrals and Electrons) sensor. The boom deployed instruments were contributed by SAIL, where as the CONE sensor and electronics were from Univ of Alaska, Fairbanks and Institute of Atmospheric Physics (Germany).

​A good overview of the project can be found in an SPIE paper.

All instruments went through integration and testing at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Fall 2014. The integration was supported by Adam Blake, who did his Masters of Science in Engineering Physics research work on the mission, and by Zachary Laurencio, an undergraduate Engineering Physics student. The booms were designed and built Finn Carlsvi and Ben Wallace, who were both undergraduate students in Engineering Physics program. The boom deployment was spin tested in SAIL at 5Hz on a student designed and built spin table. They were also spin tested during integration and testing at NASA WFF.

​The overall contributions from SAIL built instruments was plasma density measurements in the MLT region for the two flights. The instruments provided high cadence plasma density measurements that correlated well amongst different instrument types as well as ground based radar measurements. This is shown in figure below.

This composite shot of all four rockets experiments (two for MTeX and two for MIST) is made up of 30 second exposures.
Image Credit: NASA/Jamie Adkins

MTeX sounding rocket payload with booms deployed. Adam Blake (MS Student) and Zach Laurencio (UG student) with Dr. Barjatya during I&T at Wallops Island.