Ion-Neutral during Active Aurora (INCAA)

  • Mission
  • Vehicle
  • Launch
  • Photos

The science objective for the Ion-Neutral during Active Aurora (INCAA) sounding rocket mission is to understand the interactions between the plasma and the neutral atmosphere during active aurora, and how this interaction affects energy deposition in the E-region ionosphere. The measurement strategy was to measure the ion demagnetization altitude and altitude resolved Joule heating rate. The mission was designed to measure all terms in the ion momentum equation with altitude resolution of less than one kilometer, and also to use complimentary groundbased instrumentation from incoherent scatter radar and Fabry Perotinterferometers to quantify the local ionospheric state parameters and regional neutral wind morphology, respectively. The objective is to understand a single event with many measurements and use this event as a representative case.
To accomplish these science objectives, the mission used two sounding rocket payloads launched from Poker Flat Research Range, AK: an instrumented payload (46.031) that contained a suite of plasma and neutral instrumentation and a vapor tracer payload (36.360). The payloads were launched in close sequenc, 36.360 first and 46.031 3-minutes later.

The Principal Investigator is Dr. Kaeppler/Clemson University.

For more information on the INCAA mission, please visit: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2022/sun/in-cold-polar-skies-nasa-rocket-will-watch-aurora-turn-up-the-heat/

Drawing of a Terrier-Black Brant sounding rocket

The Black Brant 9 is a two stage sounding rocket with a Terrier first stage and Black Brant second stage. The Black Brant 9 can reach altitudes of about 600 km. Payloads weighing from 400 to 1200 pounds can be flown.

Drawing of Terrier-Malemute sounding rocket.

The Terrier-Improved Malmute is also a two stage sounding rocket with a Terrier first stage and a Malemute second stage. This vehicle can reach altitudes of 700 km. Payloads upto 500 pounds can be flown.

Additional sounding rocket vehicles

Google Earth Map showing Poker Flat, Alaska.

The INCAA mission was launched from Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska on April 7, 2022.