It's that time again! My rocket adventures continue. This time I will be traveling to snowy Norway with the hopes of successfully launching a sounding rocket into the polar cusp region of the Earth's magnetosphere.
Right now, I'm at Wallops Flight Facility busily trying to integrate the rocket payload and getting it ready to ship to Norway. To the left, you can see the the rocket on the spin table, where just last night they spun it up to 3 Hz (which is 180 rpm - pretty fast!) to test whether or not it was balanced properly (it was not). I'll be hanging out here off and on for the next two weeks or (gasp!) maybe more while the process of integration shuffles slowly toward an acceptable conclusion.
The next step is to travel to Norway. I'll be leaving from Boston on Saturday, November 13th and arriving many flights later in Andenes, Norway. After 2 weeks in Andenes, at the Andoya Rocket Range, helping to get things up and running there, I will scoot off to the far, far North: Longyearbyen, a cozy little arctic town on the island of Svalbard, Norway. There I will remain until the rocket launches! To the right, you can see a little map I made showing my two locations. Longyearbyen is at 78°N (just 12° south of the geographic north pole!) and so it will be dark for 24 hours a day during my stay. This is a vast difference from my last northern expedition to the North Slope of Alaska. The sleepy village of Kaktovik where I stayed 2 years ago is only at 70°N latitude, and during that particular time window (late February) we had several hours of dawn/dusk sunlight per day. This trip I will see none while in Longyearbyen. My boss describes it as pretty surreal to see schoolchildren running home from school with backpacks on under the nighttime sky, with only street lights to illuminate the way.
Well, there will be more updates to come. Stay tuned. I'm ready for another arctic adventure!