Raumfahrt - AURORA-Rakete gestartet



AURORA ROCKET LAUNCHED: Last night, with green lights swirling overhead, scientists at the University of Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range launched a 48-foot sounding rocket directly into the aurora borealis. "For weeks we've been sitting out all night every night, and though we've seen many good aurora, we haven't seen the type we wanted, in the position we wanted - until now," says graduate student Jason Ahrns, who sends this picture of the rocket in flight:
Rocket Launch Over Aurora
I have been participating in a campaign to launch a 48 foot sounding rocket into an auroral arc. For weeks weve been sitting out all night every night, and though weve seen many good aurora, we havent seen the type we want, in the position we want - until tonight. Preliminary expectations are that the launch is a total and complete success with lots of good science to come out of it.
The rocket launch was part of a NASA-sponsored campaign called GREECE---short for "Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics-Electrons Correlative Experiment." Marilia Samara, a space scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, is the principal investigator.
GREECE aims to solve a long-standing mystery about auroras: Often, when a display begins, the lights are placid and widely spread across thousands of kilometers. Then, for reasons no one fully understands, the auroras will break up into highly-structured and rapidly changing arcs, swirls, curls, pillars, even "flames," with changes occurring on fraction-of-a-second time scales. Sensors on the Data from the sounding rocket will help researchers unravel the electrodynamics underlying these sudden and unpredictable transitions.
"Preliminary expectations are that the launch was a total and complete success with lots of good science to come out of it," reports Ahrns. 



  • Launch planned from Pad 3 of Poker Flat Research Range, Mile 30, Steese Highway, AK.
  • Local time at Poker Flat Research Range is Alaskan Standard Time, AKST (AKST = UT – 9H).

Sun, 02 Mar 2014 (03 Mar 2014 UT) – Night 24

Vertical Check complete, 0412 UT.

Solar wind and IMF conditions are promising this evening as we approach the opening of the window at 0500 UT.  The IMF Bz has been southward at around -5 nT for the past 6 hours.  Solar wind speed has been dropping slowly from 375 to 350 km/s, concurrent with slow increase in density from around 2 to 6 1/cm^3.  The GOES magnetometers indicate somewhat more compression on the dayside today than yesterday, and the downward trends towards the usual minima in the midnight sector are steeper than last night, with at least one downward spike in the 0200 to 0300 UT interval.

As the Sun sets here at PKR and VEN, the Little Red and Little Green Arcs of the North are already apparent somewhat off the northern horizon at both locations, and are faintly visible even to the naked eye in the fading twilight from the SOC.

0703 UT:  breakup auroral activity over Canada (Ft. Simpson, Rabbit Lake, Ft. Smith) for the last half hour or so bodes well for activity here at PKR and VEN in perhaps an hour or so.  IMF continues southward with somewhat lessened magnitude, running around -2 nT.  Red and green arcs remain in the north at PKR and are moving to the south.  Aurora at VEN shows a fair number of separate arcs with moderate amounts of structure; still not bvery bright, however.

0723 UT:  pick up count at T-10; 0729 UT, still multiple arcs present from just to the north of zenith at VEN up to the northern horizon, fading and brightening, but still relatively faint.  0731 UT: holding at T-2 min.  GOES -15 (West) continues jumpy behavior it has evidenced since roughly 0630 UT, with roughly 10 nT peak-to-peak variations.  0741 UT: arcs at VEN have faded further and retreated to the north; recycle to T-10 min.


Excellent event over VEN ; flight right on in azimuth, ~335-km altitude.

Sat, 01 Mar 2014 (02 Mar 2014 UT) – Night 23

Vertical Check complete, 0424 UT.

It’s a far quieter night here than last night.  IMF has been near zero or northward since early in the evening at magnitudes around 3 nT, with the solar wind blowing around 375 km/s at densities around 3 1/cm^3.  Both GOES magnetometer traces showed sudden downward spikes between 0000 and 0100 UT, and then have followed relatively smooth trends down toward the midnight sector.

~0920 UT: Little Red and Green Arc of the North brightening in the north at PKR, and is still in the north at VEN.  Fades in intensity, 0940 UT.  IMF remains northward or near zero after nearly 6 hours.

Scrubbed for the night, 0941 UT.

Quelle: GREECE, Spaceweather


BLUE AURORAS: Northern Lights are usually green, and sometimes red. Those are the colors produced by oxygen when it is excited by electrons raining down from space. On Feb. 22nd, Micha Bäuml of Straumfjord, Norway, witnessed an appariton of aurora-blue:



"All of a sudden the sky exploded," says Micha. "The aurora looked like a giant flame."
In auroras, blue is a sign of nitrogen. Energetic particles striking ionized molecular nitrogen (N2+) at very high altitudes produces a cold azure glow of the type captured in Micha's photo. Why it overwhelmed the usual hues of oxygen on Feb 22nd is unknown. Auroras still have the capacity to surprise.
Any auroras tonight, blue or otherwise, will be a bit of a surprise. Geomagnetic conditions are quiet. NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 5% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on March 3rd.

Quelle: Spaceweather


Update: 6.03.2014


Sounding Rocket Launches Into Aurora Over Venetie, Alaska
On March 3, 2014, at 6:09 a.m. EST, a NASA-funded sounding rocket launched straight into an aurora over Venetie, Alaska. The Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics – Electron Correlative Experiment (GREECE) sounding rocket mission, which launched from Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska, will study classic curls in the aurora in the night sky.
The GREECE mission seeks to understand what combination of events sets up these auroral curls as they're called, in the charged, heated gas – or plasma – where aurorae form. This is a piece of information, which in turn, helps paint a picture of the sun-Earth connection and how energy and particles from the sun interact with Earth's own magnetic system, the magnetosphere.
Quelle: NASA

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