Poker Flat makes plans for rocket launch

LidarLab

LidarLab at the Poker Flat Research Range

A NASA rocket built for aurora research is scheduled for launch at the Poker Flat Research range north of Fairbanks.

The launch window begins Saturday and runs through Feb. 17.

Douglas Rowland NASA’s Space Weather Laboratory in an announcement says the rocket’s mission is to determine how the aurora heats and slingshots oxygen out of the upper atmosphere.

The oxygen from Earth’s upper atmosphere is known as auroral wind.

Rowland says it’s not dense but the flow away from the planet affects the space environment, including behavior of the Van Allen radiation belt.

The rocket will carry instruments up to 500 miles high.

The full rocket is longer than a school bus and the payload alone is 17 feet.