Feeds

Nasa rocketeers probe aurora borealis solar interference

Sky shot seeks clues to GPS woes

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A NASA-funded team has shot a sensor package, dubbed the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfvén resonator (MICA), into the heart of a form of aurora borealis to seek clues that could minimize electronic interference from solar storms.

Mellanox SX1024 10GE/40GE switch

The second stage of MICA falls to Alaska (click to enlarge)

The team camped out in Fairbanks, Alaska for the shot, using a 40-foot twin stage Terrier-Black Brant rocket to loft electric and magnetic field sensors into the natural wonder specifically to measure the effects on electrical conductivity of Alfvén waves, which form some of the long ribbons seen on Northern Lights displays. After intense solar storms, the rocket hit its target around 200 miles up, broadcasting real-time data as it went.

“We were using NASA equipment to get the telemetry back from the rocket,” physicist Marc Lessard, from the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center, told The Register during a brief stop on his way back from Alaska. “In all we were getting between 8-10Mbps on the stream. The data so far looks very good.”

Fisheye camera shot of MICA rocket shot into aurora borealis

A launch view from below

The rocket itself landed about 200 miles off the launch pad at the Poker Flat Research Range, but the data retrieved could help advance the understanding of how the energy from the sun affects the atmosphere, causing interference in everything from GPS to simple radio communications.

2012 promises to be a golden year for researchers in this field – but a disappointment for global doom-mongers. With the solar maximum due, scientists are looking to get a better understanding of the kind of forces that can interfere with global communications in order to mitigate the worst effects of solar energy.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?