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NASA Sounding Rocket Launches into Alaskan Aurora

A long-exposure photograph of a sounding rocket launching in a night sky highlighted by aurora. The sounding rocket is a bright white streak, leaving from a snow-covered ground and moving up into the sky. A small break in the streak represents the first stage of the rocket burning out and the second stage igniting. A soft, green aurora frames the edges of the image, with several white stars speckled through the black sky. A bright green line toward the top of the frame represents a LIDAR beam. A fisheye lens was used for the photograph, creating a curve for the ground and LIDAR beam.

A sounding rocket launched from Poker Flat Research Range in Fairbanks, Alaska, Nov. 8, 2023, carrying NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s DISSIPATION mission. The rocket launched into aurora and successfully captured data to understand how auroras heat the atmosphere and cause high-altitude winds. 

The teams continue to support a second sounding rocket launch for BEAM-PIE, a mission for Los Alamos National Laboratory that will use an electron beam to create radio waves, measuring how atmospheric conditions modulate them. The data is key to interpreting measurements from many other missions. 

NASA’s Sounding Rockets Program, funded by NASA’s Heliophysics Division, is managed at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, under NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Photo Credit: NASA/Lee Wingfield



Last Updated
Nov 08, 2023
Jamie Adkins