A NASA-funded collaborative research team led by Steven Powell, Cornell senior engineer in electrical and computer engineering, launched a sounding rocket February 18, 2012 from Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range to collect data straight from the heart of the aurora borealis. Researchers aim to discover how its physics affects satellite signals here on Earth.
The video shows the launch of the NASA MICA sounding rocket starting from the ignition of the first stage (the first bright flash at T+0 seconds), the end of the first stage burn and separation of the first stage motor from the second stage (T+5 seconds), the second stage ignition (bright flash at T+12 seconds), and the end of the second stage motor burn (T+46 seconds). Between T+5 and T+12 seconds one can see the first stage falling back toward the ground, as the second stage with the science payload continues upward.
Please note that the exposure on the video camera was set so that that rocket motor burns could be seen, but the light from the aurora is not visible, unlike the still photos, which used longer exposure times, and clearly show the aurora in the sky.
Launch footage provided by Matthew Titus, a University of Alaska at Fairbanks student. Video produced by Robert Kurcoba.