Aurora rocket launched
The RENU rocket was launched in the early morning hours of December 12, just before the two-week launch window was over. – We are satisfied with the campaign and look forward to analyze the data collected during the rocket flight, says professor Fred Sigernes, head of the UNIS aurora observatory (KHO).
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen
The Rocket Experiment for Neutral Upwelling, or RENU, is a sounding rocket mission designed to investigate neutral upwelling in the magnetic cusp.
A natural upwelling happens in the neutral part of the atmosphere when there is auroral activity. The aurora causes the atmosphere to warm up and a neutral upwelling is neutral gases that transpire in the atmosphere.
Launched just in time
After waiting for weeks for the right meteorological and atmospheric conditions, the rocket launched at 06:38 UT on Sunday December 12, 2010, just before the two-week launch window was slammed shut.
A shot of the December 12 RENU launch taken from downtown Andenes. (Photo: Kolbjørn Blix Dahle / Andøya Rocket Range).
During the 10-minute flight, the rocket collected data along the Earth’s magnetic field lines before landing close to Station North in Greenland. The science data were transmitted to SVALSAT during the short flight.
The scientific team behind this rocket campaign is lead by Dr. Marc Lessard, from the University of New Hampshire.
– This is the first time anyone has tried to measure these neutral particle enhancements at these altitudes and with this combination of instruments, Lessard says.
Several ground-based instrumentation located at the KHO complemented the rocket’s measurements during the flight.
– The instrumentations at KHO worked perfectly during the rocket launch and we look forward to analyze the data in the coming months, says professor Fred Sigernes, head of the Kjell Henriksen Observatory (KHO).
The rocket flight itself is extraordinary; nothing has crossed the Barents Sea that fast ever.
The team of investigators also included colleagues from the Aerospace Corporation, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, the U.S. Air Force Academy and other collaborators. The campaign was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The crew at KHO: Fred Sigernes (UNIS), Dave Olsen (U. Maryland), Margit Dyrland (UNIS), Dag Lorentzen (UNIS), Geoff McHarg (U. S. Air Force Academy), Allison Jaynes (U. New Hampshire), Marc Lessard (U. New Hampshire), and Erik Lundberg (Cornell U.), sitting in the Kjell Henriksen Observatory, Longyearbyen. (Photo: KHO/UNIS).