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  Space Cover 123: Cosmic-Ray Research Flight

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 123: Cosmic-Ray Research Flight
stevedd841
Member

Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-21-2011 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 123 (August 21, 2011)

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.

Steve Durst, SU 4379

NovaRob
Member

Posts: 54
From: Tucson, Arizona, USA
Registered: Nov 2008

posted 08-22-2011 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NovaRob   Click Here to Email NovaRob     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting info, Steve. One minor point -- I think the "Rochester University" you refer to is actually the "University of Rochester". It was never named "Rochester University", and I don't think you're referring to "Rochester Institute of Technology". Some U of R alumni take pride (perhaps unduly) in setting the name straight.

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-22-2011 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rob, my apology, my reference only said Rochester and my memory was taking a snooze. Yes, it should be University of Rochester, where my son and I went on his tour of colleges and engineering programs in which he was interested, several years ago. Thank you very much for reading our Space Cover of the Week selections and for your edit to my posting for this week.

stevedd841
Member

Posts: 164
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 08-25-2011 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have found a photo of the research flight in David DeVorkin's book, "Science with a Vengeance," highlighting scientific research in this period using B-29 aircraft in the post WWII timeframe, and later covering scientific research using German V-2 rockets and then using subsequent U.S. rockets. Here's the photo shown on page 255 of this reference:


Photo credit: Brookhaven National Laboratories, courtesy A. Needell

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