Press Release

Seven Rockets Scheduled for Launch from Poker Flat Research Range

By SpaceRef Editor
January 23, 2003
Filed under ,

Seven rockets carrying experiments used to study the aurora
are scheduled for launch from Poker Flat Research Range
this winter. The projects include a group of four rockets
launched in rapid succession to measure wind in the upper
atmosphere and one rocket that will turn on its side
mid-flight, allowing it to pierce a curtain of aurora

The first launch window of the season is scheduled for Jan.
22 through Feb. 8. During that time, the High Bandwidth
Auroral Rocket (HIBAR) mission will wait for ideal
conditions to launch a single, two-stage Black Brant IX
sounding rocket to measure high-frequency wave signals in
the aurora. The mission is designed to test a theory that
resulted from previous data-gathering efforts at Poker
Flat in 1997 and 2002.

Between Feb. 18 and March 8, scientists in the JOULE
mission will need clear, calm weather and appropriate
auroral conditions to launch four rockets high above
Earth to measure wind in the upper atmosphere. All four
rockets are scheduled to launch within six minutes of
each other. Two of the rockets will carry instruments,
and the third and fourth rocket will release harmless
chemicals to create brilliant, colorful trails that will
glow as they are carried by wind blowing in the upper
atmosphere. The colorful trails are expected to be
visible from the ground as far south as Anchorage, and
as far north as Arctic Village and Kaktovik.

During the same period, UAF Geophysical Institute
Assistant Professor Mark Conde will attempt to turn rocket
science on its side with a dual-rocket experiment. Conde
is the principal investigator of the first institute-led
rocket launch at Poker Flat since 1995. His HEX mission
will differ from other Poker Flat launches because the
primary rocket in the experiment will tip on its side in
mid-flight, allowing it to pierce a curtain of aurora
horizontally. Much like the rockets in the JOULE mission,
each rocket in Conde’s mission will release a harmless
chemical trail that will be recorded by camera sites at
Arctic Village and Toolik Lake in Alaska, and at Old
Crow in the Yukon Territory.

Poker Flat, located 30 miles northeast of Fairbanks, is
owned by the University of Alaska, and operated by the
Geophysical Institute under contract to NASA.

SpaceRef staff editor.