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sounding rocket

a rocket equipped with instruments for making meteorological observations in the upper atmosphere.
1940-45 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Encyclopedia Article for sounding rocket

any unmanned rocket that is designed to probe atmospheric conditions and structure at heights (80-160 km [50-100 miles]) beyond the reach of airplanes and balloons but impractical to explore by means of artificial satellites. A sounding rocket usually has a vertical trajectory as it travels through the upper atmosphere carrying a payload of scientific instruments

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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