Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017

picture, press release, data, story!

launch picture from Merrick Peirce:

The NASA press release is  here

some data, plotted by Max Roberts:

first the IMU (inertial measurement unit) showing the acceleration, magnetic field, and gyration seen by Bob27 as it is deployed out of the main payload:

The top panel shows the acceleration:  at first you see the centrifugal acceleration felt by the end of the Bob as it spins in the main payload deploy tube.  Then the main payload is spun down to zero, so the acceleration goes away.  Then you see the small kick when the doors come off, at T+121sec, and then the larger kick as the Bob is kicked out the tube.  Finally you see the centrifugal acceleration felt by the sensor as the Bob spins about its long axis.
   The second panel shows all these motions as sensed by the magnetometer.  Inside the deploy tube there are large magnetic offsets so the picture is distorted, but again you see the quiet period when the main payload is waiting to deploy the bobs.  Then once the Bob is kicked out and spun up by its rifling pins, you see the rapid spinning motion (about 1.5 Hz) of the Bob along its long axis.
   Finally the gyroscope sensor shows the rotation rate at each phase.

then here are two of the PIP ion sensors, this time on Bob30:

The two pips look in different directions; the upper panel sees large fluxes on the down leg, and the lower panel sees the entry into the arc near the beginning of the flight.

Finally, a story.  

Using the "xkcd ten hundred word" vocabulary (see here) (and here), the story of the Isinglass rocket (the "fast car") and its Bobs (the little space boats) studying the ionospheric plasma (the space air) and the north space lights....With thanks to Liz MacDonald, Max Roberts, Rob Clayton, and xkcd....     story

Thursday, March 2, 2017


both us and the pfaff mission.
3 launches, 10 payloads, 2 hours.
all beautiful.
all the bobs worked, as well as everything else.
nominal trajectory, well placed over venetie.
all happy!!!!!!!
photo from terry zaperach below, many more to come!!!!  :) :) :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

promising night

A promising night, and we have checked off the box for what we call "out for winds".....in 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!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

yep, still here...

We stood down for a second night Sunday night because of snow accumulation...reports of over 12" of snow at the science center, rather unusual for this area.  By Monday afternoon the range was ready for us to return, remove the shelters, and bring the payloads back vertical after the storm.  Fortunately the weekend of heavy snow coincided with a dead-zone in the solar wind activity, so we haven't missed much.  There was a pretty aurora over Venetie at one point, and John Elliott sent us a lovely picture.  This is a 30-second exposure so it conflates spatial and temporal structure for an interesting braiding effect.

You can see the cabin where our intrepid Venetie staff is staying.  (You can often see this in the real-time all-sky images from Venetie also.)  Here are some other pictures from David Kenward, who was up in Venetie the first week, and will return tomorrow.  


Venetie is approached by plane, over the White Mountains.  After that there is an enormous plain.  To the far north can be seen the Brooks Range.  David notes that the town is linked by walkie-talkies, and that on one channel there is a sort of general public address system, on which there is occasionally walkie-talkie-bingo, with prizes to be won.

  We are hopeful for clear skies and auroral activity tomorrow, it is looking like a promising evening.  I need to remember to buy donuts for the blockhouse...the pinker and sparklier and  stickier the donuts, the more efficacious they are in inducing good launch conditions.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

back on the rail!

    the payload is back on the rail!  so we are back in business.  it was turned on and checked once on the rail and all seems good.  however, a large snowstorm (6-12" of snow tomorrow, unusual for this area) is barreling down upon us, so, the launchers were lowered and the shelters pulled over them, and we will stand down for saturday evening while the snow comes through.  in all my time here i cannot remember having to do this before (lower the rails for snow/wind).
     so, we will hunker down and make soup tomorrow, and be back counting sunday night.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

update for last night and tonight

Hello all-
Here is a lovely lovely video from the digital all sky camera at our downrange site in Venetie during the first rocket launch two nights ago.  The red dot that appears midway shows the location of the payload as it transits through the field of view of the camera.  We launched at 10:14 UT (time is shown in lower left);  we sent the call to drop below 3 minutes just before 10:10 (right when the sky goes dark!!!) but we could see it coming in the southwestern horizon of the Poker camera, so we knew that the substorm was approaching.

It seems clear that the little Bob payloads did not escape from the main payload during this first flight.  So we spent much of last night exploring that situation;  the payload for rocket 304 was removed from the rail and brought back to the assembly building so that we could explore it while the other mission counted their window (they did not launch, much snow).  All the things we can think of that may have caused the problem, do not seem evident in the second payload.  So we are considering and assessing, in order to decide whether we are comfortable returning the payload to the rail on Friday.  For tonight, we are taking our mandatory one-day-in-any-14-day-period off.  Scarily, we are within 14 days of the end of our window.....

In the meantime, the science team is making lots of plots of our excellent rocketA event.  We have lots of data to consider.

Also, here is our logo in draft, thanks Max and Robin!