Scientific Colloquium
November 1, 2013

"It Is Rocket Science -- Remarkable Discoveries from NASA's Sounding Rocket Program"

For over five decades, NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program has provided a steady stream of scientific and technological advancement to support research objectives of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Sounding rocket missions continue to enable major discoveries about the earth’s space environment, as well as fundamental new observations about the sun, stars, and other celestial objects. The ability to carry out these missions enables numerous research teams around the country to remain at the cutting edge of progress in the field and helps explain why NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program is the envy of the world for carrying out focused, low-cost space research. Recent sounding rocket missions have: (1) directly measured X-ray emission from the solar wind colliding with gravitationally focused interstellar helium, (2) gathered the highest resolution ever EUV images of the solar corona, revealing how braided magnetic fields release energy, and (3) explored the source of violent wind streams and turbulence in the upper atmosphere near 100 km altitude that are believed to transport mass on a global scale. In this presentation, an overview of NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program will be provided with an emphasis on recent scientific achievements in the fields of astronomy/planetary, solar, and geospace research.

About the speaker:

Dr. Robert Pfaff is a Space Scientist in the Heliophysics Division, where he carries out research focused on DC electric and magnetic fields, plasma waves, and space plasma electrodynamics. Dr. Pfaff has built and successfully flown electric field experiments for over 50 sounding rocket payloads since coming to Goddard in 1985. He is also the Principal Investigator of the Vector Electric Field Investigation (VEFI) on the C/NOFS Air Force satellite. Dr. Pfaff has served as the Project Scientist for Sounding Rockets since 1994 and chairs NASA’s Sounding Rocket Working Group.

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