Sounding Off

To better understand how solar storms might interfere with GPS systems, Marc R. Lessard and his colleagues launched a sounding rocket into the aurora borealis from the University of Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks on February 18, 2012.

Sounding rockets are small but powerful suborbital rockets that borrow their name from the marine term “to sound,” which means to take measurements.

Sounding rockets are advantageous for some research due to their low cost, short lead time (sometimes less than six months) and their ability to conduct research in areas inaccessible to either balloons or satellites. They are also used as test beds for equipment that will be used in more expensive and risky orbital spaceflight missions. The smaller size of a sounding rocket also makes launching from temporary sites possible allowing for field studies at remote locations, even in the middle of the ocean, if fired from a ship.

Credit: Lee Wingfield/NASA

(Source: sites.wff.nasa.gov)


Posted 1 year ago with 750 notes
Tagged:aurora borealisscienceastronomyphysicssounding rocketscience experimentrocketauroralight

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