Reuters - Video

Edition: US | UK | IN | CN | JP

Tech Videos

Northern Lights rocket launch could solve GPS interference

Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 02:05

Rocket containing multi-needle probe is fired into the Northern Lights to unlock the secrets behind Aurora Borealis and solve the interference caused to navigation systems by electron clouds. Jim Drury reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

The ICI4 rocket had a unique job. It was fired into Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights - in a bid to answer why loose electrons caused by solar flares interfere with navigation and communication systems. SOUNDBITE (English) ANDRES SPICHER, PHD STUDENT AT UNIVERSITY OF OSLO, SAYING: "The Sun is constantly bombarding the Earth with a very hot gas, with a solar wind, and that gas is made of electrons and protons and when that solar wind reaches the Earth the particles manage to follow the magnetic field lines and as the magnetic field lines converge towards the poles this particle will just follow the field lines and get in our atmosphere at about 250 kilometres altitude and collide with the particles in our atmosphere, with the neutrals and then these interactions between particles with origins in the Sun and origins here will create the Aurora Borealis." Researchers at the University of Oslo fired ICI4 into the Lights in February. They hope the data will help scientists improve GPS and communication systems - and predict space weather. Attached to the rocket was their newly-designed four-needle Langmuir probe, which can take hundreds of times more electronic measurements than other systems. SOUNDBITE (English) ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS, WOJCIECH MILOCH, SAYING: "This is the Langmuir probe, the probe that collects electrons and ions free charges in the ionosphere and from that we can actually understand the structures and processes that are occurring, that are happening in the high latitude ionosphere in the Aurora." The researchers say the mission was a success, though analysis could take years. With their Langmuir probes now used by both NASA and the European Space Agency, the Oslo team says it's put a rocket under the whole future of space exploration.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Northern Lights rocket launch could solve GPS interference

Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 02:05