Wednesday, March 1, 2017

promising night

A promising night, and we have checked off the box for what we call "out for winds" order to launch, we need (a) a healthy rocket, (b) good aurora, and (c) good weather.  For much of the window we have been battling weather in the form of clouds, snow, and rain, but the more common problem with auroral rockets is being out for winds....this means that the atmospheric winds are such that the trajectory does not stay within allowed bounds.  For us tonight it meant that the booster motor would have fallen outside the range boundaries.  The way we know this is that the range lofts balloons throughout the night and tracks them to measure the winds.
    The good thing about being out for winds, as opposed to clouds, is that you can see the aurora!!  We had some spectacular aurora tonight, and Don Hampton and his student Jason Ahrns collected some great photos.  The digital all sky that Don has fielded at Venetie captured what we call the PacMan aurora:

and Jason captured what I think must be truly the photo of the campaign, from over the Venetie cabin:

Finally there has been a sighting of peeps, a symbol of some repute among those of us waiting for rockets:

so it seems that we have got all of our ducks in a line now and it's time to launch this thing.  More luck tomorrow!  Supposed to have clear skies and good aurora;  also the temperatures are dropping so that should help with the winds.  Onward!

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