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Seeing the Aurora in a New Light: Sounding Rocket to Help Scientists Study Northern Lights

On a cold February night in Poker Flat, Alaska, a team of scientists will wait patiently for the exotic red and green glow of an aurora to illuminate the sky. Instead of simply admiring the view, this group from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center of Greenbelt, Md., and The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, Calif. will launch a sounding rocket up through the Northern Lights. The rocket could launch as early as the night of Feb. 2, 2013, but the team has a two-week window in order to find the perfect launch conditions.

LINK: [link to www.sciencedaily.com]

From One Laurel to Another: a Letter from Columbia

On this Day of Remembrance, February 1, 2013, NASA will mark the 10th anniversary of the STS-107 Columbia accident with a wreath-laying ceremony at the astronaut memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, paying tribute to the lost crews of Columbia, Challenger and Apollo 1, as well as other space explorers and NASA colleagues who have passed on. Most of us have our own personal memories of the tragic events that took the lives of these brave few who risked everything in the name of exploration, knowledge, and discovery, and I’ve agreed to share one person’s connection to the Columbia crew.

Laurel Nendza, a fellow space blogger over on that social media site that begins with F and rhymes with “acebook,” has a particular connection with STS-107 Mission Specialist Laurel B. Clark… if only that they both love space and share the same first name. Still, it’s enough to hang one’s heart on, and Laurel (the blogger) recently posted a particularly touching note that was sent by Laurel (the astronaut) to her family just before Columbia headed back on its ill-fated return trip home. Here’s Laurel’s (and Laurel’s) story:
On February 1, 2003, the seven [STS-107] crew members were lost with the Space Shuttle Columbia over North Texas during the shuttle’s re-entry. They were brave men and women who gave their lives for space exploration.

Read more: [link to www.universetoday.com]

No comparison between space programs of two Koreas

The U.S. government made clear Thursday that it makes no sense to compare the rocket launches of the two Koreas.

"You know our view that there is no basis for comparing the behavior of the ROK in space with the behavior of the DPRK," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing.

She was using the acronym of the formal names of the Koreas -- the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Earlier in the day, South Korea succeeded in its third attempt to put a scientific satellite into orbit. South Korea has secured communication with the satellite at 3:27 a.m. (local time).

Nuland confirmed that South Korea's launch was successful, citing an assessment by U.S. officials who observed it.

South Korea has become the 11th nation to send a rocket out of the planet, although the realization of its long-time goal has been a bit overshadowed by a successful launch by North Korea over a month earlier.

The U.S., however, drew a clear line between the two in terms of the transparency of their programs.

"The DPRK (North Korea), obviously, is completely proscribed under binding U.N. Security Council resolutions from -- based on its ballistic missile activity -- from any kind of launching, whereas the ROK (South Korea) has developed its space launch program completely responsibly," she said.

LINK: [link to www.spacedaily.com]
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