NASA Program for Exploration of the Moon and Planets

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Abstract

When the WAC Corporal rocket first ascended 72 kilometers above the desert sands of New Mexico in 1945 to make measurements of atmospheric pressures, geophysics acquired a new tool that in the course of a quarter of a century has transformed earth sciences into planetary sciences. By the time of the International Geophysical Year in 1957 the power of this new tool was becoming apparent. Data from sounding rockets had substantially improved our understanding of the atmosphere and ionosphere and had unmasked the solar spectrum in the hitherto hidden ultraviolet region.

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