Busy rocket season to launch at Poker Flat Research Range

Jan 12, 2009

A total of eight National Aeronautics and Space Administration sounding rockets will launch from Poker Flat Research Range in 2009. The rocket season is split into two launch windows. The first launch window opens Jan. 10, and will remain open until Feb. 5, 2009.

The first window will see the launch of three rockets as part of two separate missions. One mission will aid scientists' study of the ionosphere, while the other will gather data on the structure of auroral arcs.

The Ionospheric Science and Inertial Sensing project, called ISIS for short, will be the first to fly. This is a University of Alaska Fairbanks student rocket project funded by the Alaska Space Grant Program. It aims to measure the plasma density structure of the high latitude D-region of the ionosphere. The ISIS team anticipates their rocket to launch at 2 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Jan. 10, so long as winds remain stable.

The 147-pound ISIS payload will fly aboard an Orion sounding rocket that will fly up to 57 vertical miles in 2.5 minutes. Ten students have developed the instrumentation and payload under the guidance of Principal Investigator Denise Thorsen, Alaska Space Grant Program director, and Joe Hawkins, a UAF professor of electrical and computer engineering. This will be the Alaska Student Rocket Program's fifth rocket to launch from Poker Flat since 1992.

The second mission is called ACES, or Auroral Current and Electrodynamics Structure. It includes two separate vehicles that will fly through different sections of an auroral arc. The two-stage Black Brant IX will launch first, expected to reach the top edge of an aurora display at more than 200 vertical miles. Just one-and-a-half minutes later, the single-stage Black Brant V will lift-off. Its goal is to reach the lower edge of the same auroral arc. By measuring the top and base of the aurora simultaneously, scientists hope to gain a clearer picture of aurora structure.

Scott Bounds from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa is the principal investigator for the ACES project, which was initiated in 2007.

Poker Flat Research Range will open a second launch window Feb. 12, 2009 that will include two more experiments with a total of five rockets of various sizes. The scientists overseeing these missions are from Dartmouth College and Clemson University.

Since atmospheric conditions must be just right prior to launch, specific times are not typically set for rocket launches. Therefore, rockets are loaded onto launchers and ready to fly at any time during launch windows.

The general public is not permitted on Poker Flat Research Range during rocket launches. However, the public may view rocket launches and activity from several vantage points near the range.

On the web: www.gi.alaska.edu/pfrr

Source: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Explore further: After early troubles, all go for Milky Way telescope

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Four rockets launch from Poker Flat Research Range

Feb 19, 2009

Four NASA rockets launched from Poker Flat Research Range during a three-hour span on the morning of Feb. 18, 2009. The rockets, carrying payloads that emitted glowing vapor trails that help scientists study ...

Rocket launches from Poker Flat Research Range

Feb 27, 2012

On Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8:41 p.m. Alaska time, scientists launched a NASA sounding rocket from Poker Flat Research Range into a brilliant aurora display. The rocket mission, designed to gather information on space weather ...

2 rockets set to launch from Poker Flat Research Range

Jan 26, 2011

Scientists from Virginia Tech and the University of Colorado are preparing to launch two NASA sounding rockets for two experiments at Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks. The launch window for both experiments opens ...

6 aurora-research rockets to launch from Poker Flat

Feb 09, 2007

Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of New Hampshire have experiments ready on the launch rails at Poker Flat Research Range north of Fairbanks, and another scientist is waiting in New Hampshire ...

Rocket launches into an aurora to study auroral swirls

Mar 07, 2014

If you've ever wondered what makes the aurora take on the amazing forms it does you've got company. Marilia Samara and the crew of aurora researchers at Alaska's Poker Flat Range head up the NASA-funded Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics-Electrons Correlative Experiment, ...

Recommended for you

Image: NASA's SDO observes a lunar transit

7 hours ago

On July 26, 2014, from 10:57 a.m. to 11:42 a.m. EDT, the moon crossed between NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and the sun, a phenomenon called a lunar transit.

Image: Tethys in sunlight

7 hours ago

Tethys, like many moons in the solar system, keeps one face pointed towards the planet around which it orbits. Tethys' anti-Saturn face is seen here, fully illuminated, basking in sunlight. On the right side ...

User comments : 0