Rocket Launched Into Northern Lights to Illuminate GPS Effects

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – As the brilliant colors of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, delight skygazers, Cornell University researchers are discovering how their physics affects satellite signals here on Earth.

A NASA-funded collaborative research team led by Steven Powell, Cornell senior engineer in electrical and computer engineering, launched a sounding rocket from Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8:41 p.m. Alaska Standard Time (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 at 12:41 a.m. EST) to collect data straight from the heart of the aurora.

Poker Flat sends up rocket into northern lights for GPS research

by The Associated Press
Feb 20, 2012

ITHACA, N.Y. - The rocket arcing up into the northern lights above Alaska was on its way to measure the effects of the celestial phenomenon's effects on global positioning systems.

It was a mission launched Saturday by a NASA funded group of 60 researchers studying electrical activity in the aurora borealis and the likelihood it's interfering with GPS and other signals.

NASA launches rocket from Poker Flat to collect data on aurora

by Sam Friedman/

FAIRBANKS — Spectators within sight of the Poker Flat Research Range got two aerial shows Saturday night — active northern lights and a two-stage rocket launch timed to send 500 pounds of instruments through the aurora.

UAF researchers use drones to evaluate sea ice thickness at Nome and aid incoming tanker

by Reba Lean/
Jan 10, 2012

FAIRBANKS — Camera-equipped drones flew over Nome this week to help a Russian fuel tanker, the Renda, get a perspective on the sea ice near the town's harbor.

The Renda is sailing to Nome to deliver fuel. The town's supply is expected to run out before spring. The tanker is accompanied by U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, which opens paths for the tanker.

Nome's harbor is too shallow for Healy to enter, and the Renda will have to fare on its own to unload its fuel.

Rocket launches from Poker Flat Research Range

By Ned Rozell/

Scientists launched a NASA sounding rocket at 1:49 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 28, achieving their goal of gathering an image of the Whirlpool Galaxy from a rocket that arced about 150 miles above northern Alaska.

“We were on target,” said professor Jim Green of the University of Colorado, who led the launch team. “It behaved exactly the way we thought it should.”


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