Rocket Launches into Northern Lights

by / February 22, 2012

This past Saturday, a team of scientists launched a small rocket into a northern lights display in an attempt to discover what makes auroras tick, Space.com reported.

The two-stage suborbital rocket blasted off from the Poker Flat Research Range just north of Fairbanks, Alaska, according to the report, and reached a height of about 217 miles as part of a NASA-funded study into how the northern lights can affect signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites and other spacecraft.

The fisheye photo above was taken by an automated camera near the Poker Flat Research Range entrance gate in Fairbanks, Alaska (photo by Donald Hampton). 

Shown below is the two-stage Terrier-Black Brant rocket as it arcs through the northern lights about 200 miles above Earth. Stage one of the rocket had just separated and is seen falling back to Earth in this photo taken by NASA's Terry E. Zaperach.