NASA Launches Rocket Into an Aurora

Posted on March 5, 2014

NASA launches a rocket into an aurora


NASA launched a sounding rocket into an aurora over Venetie, Alaska on Monday. The rocket is part of the Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics Electron Correlative Experiment (GREECE) sounding rocket mission. The mission seeks to understand what combination of events sets up auroral curls in the charged, heated gas - or plasma - where aurorae form. NASA says auroras are the result of incoming particles from the sun. These particles cause the release of other particles already trapped near Earth, which trigger reactions in the upper atmosphere in which oxygen and nitrogen molecules release photos of light.

Marilia Samara, principal investigator for the mission at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said in a statement, "The conditions were optimal. We can't wait to dig into the data."

You can read more about NASA's GREECE mission here.

Photo: NASA/Christopher Perry