Lift-off for NASA VortEx

Long-exposure photo of a rocket launch, with aurora and start in the background.


Two sounding rockets in the NASA VortEx project was launched from Andøya Space on March 23rd, 2023.

The VortEx project aims to understand how winds and energy from the lower atmosphere affect the upper atmosphere. In the atmosphere, energy from the lower atmosphere travels up as much as 100 kilometers. These waves of energy create turbulence, vortices and instability in the upper atmosphere, and may affect the space weather around the Earth. Knowledge of these processes is important to protect satellites and other infrastructure in orbit.

Of the four sounding rockets prepared for VortEx, the first of them was launched from Andøya on March 23rd, 2023, at 21:00:00 UTC, followed by the second rocket two minutes later.

The first sounding rocket reached an apogee of 149 kilometers, and the second reached 363 kilometers while releasing tracers to visualize turbulence and vortices in the atmosphere – creating cloud formations visible from the ground.

Image of a high altitude cloud against a dark, starry sky.
The tracers dispersing in the atmosphere, visualizing the turbulence and vortices.

The two sounding rockets that didn’t launch will be transferred into storage awaiting future use.