Thursday, January 2, 2014

From the ice: BARREL Status Update #14

Hi all, 

Another windy day here at Halley. But, we did manage to finish the full system test of payload 2J so it's now ready to fly. We also have 2K going through bench testing. The SANAE team finished getting 2X flight ready. They were waiting for the winds to die down for most of the day, but it never happened. They've started bench testing 2Y as well. Tomorrow looks like a possibility for Halley, but the winds are expected to rise again through the day. So, we'll have to see if we get a decent window to launch. On a more positive note, geomagnetic activity has been increasing and we saw an extremely intense precipitation event at payload 2I. Payload 2W saw much weaker precipitation so must have been on the equatorward edge of it. It was restricted to our lowest energy channel (at ring current energies). The relativistic electron flux measured by GOES has been on the rise throughout the day, so I expect we'll start seeing some higher energy precipitation soon.

Robyn

From Alexa... I just wanted to add that with all these substorms and the Solar Wind conditions continuing, there is a good chance that those in the Northern US and Canada (as well as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere or much farther south in the Souther Hemisphere, say +/- 45 deg latitudes) have a good shot at seeing the northern lights, as long as it's not cloudy like it is here in Vermont. You can check your chances using http://aurorasaurus.org. Just remember that as we get closer to midnight, we move into a region of streched magnetic field which means that the aurora oval starts to expand southward. Substorm injections, and thus where the particles are precipitated which can create the aurora, also tend to happen around midnight and into the dawn sector (midnight - 6 am). 

You can also keep up to date with the current space weather at spaceweather.com. The chances for seeing the aurora increase when Bz is southward. You can also look at the AE index.  If it looks like something seen on January 2nd between 17 - 19 hrs, then you know that there is a substorm currently happening which can create aurora. It's always best though if you can look at a magnetometer which is close to where you are located. If you see it get higher and then quickly lower, you are likely going to see the aurora. If you are far enough north (or south) you don't have to have a full on geomagnetic storm to see the lights, but for most of us, it helps to have the storm. 

Happy aurora hunting, and to wet the taste buds here's a picture of the aurora I took while at the Cluster workshop this fall. This was during a much weaker geomagnetic event, but I was also quiet far north. If you want to take photos, you need to have the shutter speed set to something like 8 seconds, but to get some of the background images (like a well placed barn or people) into the image, try something around 25 - 30 seconds long. In either case, make sure to bring your tripod!