Saturday, November 27, 2010



Welcome to a blog that will describe what we are doing with the RENU rocket. Before getting into any details, I should explain what we are trying to do.

From the point of view of science goals, we are trying to see if the same things that cause the northern lights might also heat up the very high altitude part of the atmosphere and cause plumes of oxygen to stream upwards - something like 1000 km or maybe more.

In order to do this, we have put a large rocket together which is now ready to go, from the north coast of Norway. We, on the other hand, are sitting in a place called Longyearbyen in Svalbard (VERY far north). We are sitting here so we can get a good look at the sky above to see aurora and decide when to launch. Once launched, the rocket will fly right over us, measuring many different things as it does so.

We are just finishing preparations. Below is a photo of the rocket just before it was placed on the launch rail. The rocket is actually quite big. It is a four stage rocket, meaning that there are four rocket motors that fire one after the other. The total length is about 67 feet, but the diameter is only about 17 inches. It will reach an altitude of about 475 km and travel a distance of more than 1000 km.

Once the rocket is on the "launch rail", it becomes our job to monitor the skies above and the solar wind in space to decided when to launch. So far, things are still being finished up with the payload assembly.

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