Aurora Borealis Rocket Launch Alaska
Above: The first HEX rocket follows a program that angles it in mid-flight to enter the aurora horizontally. Altitude: 100 miles (160 kilometers)
Below: Luminous trails
Rocket Launch Poker Flat AlaskaProject HEX will help scientists measure how air heated by aurora rises, by the distortion it creates in a man-made chemical trail dispensed by two sounding rockets. There are two parts of the HEX mission, a horizontal and a vertical TMA release. The vertical TMA release between 80-180 km (see left image) will allow measurement of horizontal wind shear in the active E-region. The horizontal and vertical releases together (below) will allow scientists to develop better models of wind patterns in the E-region. more

Aurora Research Rocket Launch Alaska

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The Horizontal E-region eXperiment (HEX):

HEX project rockets were successfully launched at the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska at
12:50 am and again at 1:09 am on March 25, 2003.

While traveling horizontally at about 2.5 km/s the first rocket released a 200 kilometer-long trail of the chemical trimethyl aluminum (TMA), which is harmless to the atmosphere. The luminous trail provided scientists with the opportunity to measure and map vertical winds in the ionosphere. The second Terrier-Orion rocket also performed a chemical release to map the wind above and below the first rocket´┐Żs horizontal path for comparative observation and study.

Northern Lights Rocket Launch Alaska
Above: The second rocket launch.

Photographer: Chuck Johnson

Location: Cleary Summit, 20 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska
Time: 12:50-01:15 am on March 25, 2003
Camera: Olympus OM1n, 20 MM f2.0 lens,
Fuji 800 ISO film, 10-20 sec. exposures

Images below:
Camera: Olympus digital C3040, f1.8, 400 ISO,
16 sec. exposures

Aurora Borealis Rocket  Research Launch

The Poker Flat Research Range, located 30 miles northeast of Fairbanks, is owned by the University of Alaska, and operated by the Geophysical Institute under contract to NASA.

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All images © 2003 - 2023 Chuck Johnson

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