Steve Durst, SU 4379
A World War II Climatic Research Lab cover is pictured using a free frank as was customary during the war for military personnel including this writer, Lt. H. G. Hudgens. In this time frame, weather balloons and scientific instruments carried on similar ballons could only gather limited upper atmosphere data to 140,000 feet altitude or 26.5 miles.
After the war, the United States Army Air Corps (later as the U.S. Air Force) the Bartol Research Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology team-up to conduct research to study the lower atmosphere and cosmic-ray radiation, charged subatomic particles originating in space. The cover shown was flown on the B-29 cosmic-ray research flight of May 22, 1947.
Space Cover 123: Flown Cover for Cosmic-Ray Research Flight of 1947
Beginning in the summer of 1946, the "Joint Army Air Forces and Navy Upper Atmosphere Research Program" operated by personnel of the Naval Ordnance Test Station and Muroc Air Base, California, (now designated as Edwards Air Force Base) flew a variety of scientific instrument packages aboard specially designated B-29 aircraft in support of radiation testing using V-2 rockets.
The scientific B-29 flights were augmented by cosmic-ray groups at the Bartol Research Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other assistance was provided by Harvard University, the Naval Research Laboratory, the National Bureau of Standards, the Weather Bureau, Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Rochester, and DTM (Carnegie Institution of Washington) to provide a variety of remote sensing, atmospheric, and astronomic packages.
Scientists involved in this research including the Applied Physics Lab's James Van Allen assembled two independent cosmic ray telescopes, with a spectrograph and radiation counters positioned in a customized warhead section of a V-2 rocket that would test the lower and upper atmosphere's radiation during rocket flight.
During the same time period, the Van Allen group flew identical cosmic-ray telescopes and instruments on four B-29 flights for a total of 85 flight hours to fill in data for the lower atmosphere part of the experiment. After several successful scientific flights, and after confirming and calibrating test data from the flights, the APL group under Allen verified the existence of a region of maximum secondary radiation.
In time, and after extensive additional research, these experiments would lead further to of the existence of Earth's Van Allen radiation belts.