Image Credit: Justin Hartney and Riley Troyer (mission logo)
LAMP is a sounding rocket mission designed to explore the energy of a certain type of aurora called pulsating aurora. The aurora, or Northern Lights, comes in many forms. Pulsating aurora looks like large patches or splotches of light across the sky and is typically much fainter than the bright arcs and curtains shown in most photography. It gets its name from the periodic pulsations it exhibits – from several to 10’s of seconds between on and off phases.
Why is Pulsating Aurora important?
Why is pulsating aurora important?
It is caused by the dumping of electrons from out in space that follow magnetic field lines and hit Earth’s atmosphere, creating light emissions. Pulsating aurora has been known to contain higher energies of electrons than other types of aurora, and therefore could be a significant source of the energy that gets transferred from space to Earth.
The LAMP rocket seeks to understand the energy range of electrons that cause pulsating aurora by launching into an active pulsating aurora event and measuring the particles and fields in that region. A ground-based team will be deployed along the trajectory, to capture images and other information about the environment at the height of the rocket’s path.