USU’s Space Dynamics Laboratory sending AWE telescope to the International Space Station | Space


The Space Dynamics Laboratory AWE mission is scheduled to launch on Thursday evening from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Image: (Allison Bills | SDL) SDL personnel removing the protective shroud over the Atmospheric Waves Experiment payload. Utah State University scientists partnered in making the device, which measures atmospheric gravity waves and will launch to the International Space Station on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.  | Nov. 9, 2023, 1:00 p.m.

After years of research and development, a mission by Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory will finally begin to study atmospheric weather changes from the International Space Station. But first, the Logan-based technology will need to successfully launch from NASA Kennedy Space Center on Thursday evening.

The Atmospheric Waves Experiment, or AWE, mission will first mount an infrared telescope developed at the Space Dynamics Laboratory to the outside of the International Space Station.

“(The telescope) will be looking down at the Earth’s atmosphere from a specific region,” AWE project manager Burt Lamborn said in an interview Wednesday, “with the ultimate goal to understand better how Earth weather, or terrestrial weather, impacts space weather, or weather higher up in the atmosphere.”

Atmospheric gravity waves, or AGWs, are created when air is displaced by Earth’s weather or terrain, say over a mountain, and then disrupts stable air above, according to the National Weather Service.

Why are these waves significant? Having a better understanding of this type of weather is crucial to protecting satellites and other technology in orbit, “as space weather can disrupt communication and navigation systems and impact spacecraft,” according to the AWE mission website.

“This is the first time that AGWs, especially the small-scale ones, will be measured globally at the mesopause, the gateway to the space,” said Michael Taylor, a Utah State physics professor and principal investigator for the mission…

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