Science News

Four NASA Rockets Shot Into Northern Lights In Turbulence Study

The Poker Flat Research Range was set for a perfect area to launch four rockets into the beautiful, aurora filled sky early Monday morning because the weather was finally perfect for the scientists who have wanted to launch these rockets to be able to study turbulence in the atmosphere better. A report by News Miner on Jan. 27 stated that these scientists have been trying to launch these four rockets for quite some time now and early Monday morning’s weather was perfect for it. Because of the weather being perfect for this launch in Fairbanks, Alaska, the launch of these four rockets was successful for the scientists. They were able to shoot these rockets into the Northern Lights to better understand how our atmosphere’s air turbulence works.

According to a report by The Washington Post, the successful rocket launch in this perfect aurora filled sky in 40 degree weather in the Northern Lights in Fairbanks happened after 13 unsuccessful nights in a row of bad weather that was not suitable enough for their rocket launch to be successful.

The team who set two of the rockets off was led by University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute’s Rich Collins to measure the turbulence in our atmosphere. The team who launched the other two rockets was led by Miguel Larsen of Clemson University and they were used to release a vapor they could see to help them study how the turbulence could be seen 60 miles above ground. The vapor or gas that was released by Larsen’s team glows green when it is mixed with oxygen. This gas is called trimethyl aluminum. They will use the images that appear with the green gas to study how turbulence works in our atmosphere.

Monday morning not only brought with it the perfect weather for the rocket launches but it just happened to be the last day they would be able to do this experiment since Tuesday was when their launch window would be over.

There is going to be a fifth rocket launch but it did not happen on Monday. Instead, it is due later on this week and this team will be led by scientists in Utah. It was actually somewhat ironic because although the weather as perfect for the four rocket launches that did happen Monday morning, the aurora in the sky was too strong for the fifth one to be able to launch with the other four. The fifth rocket is a separate project anyway and is going to measure the aurora filled sky right above Kaktovik, which is to the North. Since the strongest aurora needed for the fifth rocket to be launched was farther South, they had to postpone the launch until possibly later on this week.

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - We Would Love To Keep In Touch

If you liked this article then please consider joing our mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and opportunities from our team.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.