Monday, December 29, 2008


So, I have had all sorts of traveling delays, as you may or may not know. Here is my adventure from the latest delay. So due to a lot of unfortunate things, I ended up staying in a hotel on saturday night in Milwaukee so that I could fly out early sunday morning. There was probably going to be snow in the morning, but I was just going to go for it, and hope for the best.

So I'm hanging out in my hotel room. Getting caught up on sending emails. Watching some weird movies on the tv. Giving myself a haircut with my new scissors (not the sewing ones!). All sorts of highly important and entertaining things. I finally went to sleep, only to wake up at 1am with a horrible headache. Normally I don't get really horrible headaches, so I didn't know what to think of that. Also, I was feeling pretty horrible and did not even want to get up to rummage around for some ibuprofen. So I guess I was lying awake for over an hour. At some point in there I remembered this story I had just heard about a friend whose house had very high and very unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. So I got a little panicky and was sure I was going to die from CO poisoning in this hotel in Milwaukee. That was enough motivation to get me out of bed in order to open the window. I also got some ibuprofen. Two hours later I woke up, with my headache gone and my room absolutely freezing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Still Matching My Poster

Okay so, let me just tell this tale of my never ending ability to completely suck at traveling.

This tale begins friday morning. I get up nice and early, and put on my nice shirt that I decided I would wear for my poster presentation. I made this decision long ago so that I could pick the appropriate colors for my poster, because it is a proven fact that if you clash with your poster people are less likely to want to talk to you.

I check out of my hotel, luggage in hand, and walk to the corner where the shuttle bus picks up. I have plenty of time and am pretty proud of myself for sticking with the plan thus far. I wait for the shuttle. No shuttle comes. I see fellow conference attendees with their poster tubes in hand just walking to the conference center. I was only about eight blocks away, but I just really didn't feel like wheeling luggage through the streets of San Francisco. Well eventually I hit the fifteen minute mark, and realized that if I was going to make it on foot I needed to start walking. So walk I did.

I made it to the conference center with enough time to check out the luggage checking booth. There was like a mini airport station set up where you could check your luggage for a fee of $10. I had heard a rumor also, that they didn't charge the airline fee of $15 to check a bag either. So pretty much, if this was true I was saving $5, and not having to deal with luggage all day. And guess what, it was true! This was nearly the highlight of my day.

The best part was that the line was not very long, so I had ten minutes to go over to the other building and hang my poster up and get ready for that to start. I had kind of planned on being at my poster between 8 and 9, and then taking a small break to get coffee and food, and then going back from 10 to 11. I ended up talking to various people, practically without any breaks, from 8 to 11:30, when I hastily departed for lunch.

I got back from lunch, took down my poster, and replaced it with one of my regular letter size versions that I had printed up for people to take if they wanted, which was probably the funniest thing I had done in awhile. I booked a ride on the SuperShuttle which was nice because they picked me up right outside the door of the poster session.

At the airport I soon learned the importance of checking your flight status before you leave. My flight was delayed 1.5 hours (the exact time of my layover in Minneapolis), because we were waiting on an aircraft to arrive from some place with horrible weather. When I arrived in MSP I ran clear across the airport to try to make an impossible connection. I had 4 minutes, and it took me 10 minutes. Even if I had made it in 4 I think I would have been too late. The two people at the gate were amazingly nice, even though I was amazingly angry. I was labelled a "distressed passenger" meaning that since the delay was technically weather related they could only give me a discount on a hotel, not a free hotel. They also gave me a voucher for a $13 dinner and a $5 breakfast. Thanks a heep.

So I called the number they gave me and booked a room at the Park Plaza, which was $60, because I really wasn't keen on being one of those people who were getting mats to sleep on from some closet in the airport. The Park Plaza also had a free shuttle service, so I called them up and the man said a shuttle was on its way. Well when I booked the room, the woman said it was a 9 minute shuttle ride. It was said with much confidence. I waited ten minutes, along with a bunch of others frantically trying to find the appropriate shuttle, when I hear this woman say, "Is anyone else going to the Park Plaza?" From there I managed to find myself agreeing to share a taxi with her and this other man, which would cost us $10 each. Fine. Apparently this woman's delays were not at all weather related, so she got a free hotel room. I was pretty jealous but also pretty tired. We are in line to check in and this woman says, "I could probably get a room with two double beds and then you won't have to pay for a room." I say, "really? That would be great!" And that is how I ended up sharing a room with Zina, the med student at McGill who is currently doing her residency and had a horrible time with their physics exam.

And let me tell you, it was pretty spectacular to wake up maybe three hours later to catch the shuttle back to the airport and still be wearing the clothes that match my poster.

I got to the airport and promptly spent my $18 of food vouchers. I had to buy an assortment of pastries, because apparently a bag of coffee beans doesn't qualify as 'food'. Whatever lady.

I finally got on a plane this morning, and I could start to see the end of this traveling ordeal. Until they decided the plane was broken, and we would be getting on a new plane. So we all get off this plane, walk ten gates to where a working plane is, and board the plane. again. Surprisingly enough it did take off. It even landed in Appleton, which was my destination of choice. And my luggage made it too. And over thirty hours later, I'm still matching my poster.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

looongest roaaad eeever!

Just kidding, longest day ever, that is a fact.

I got up early this morning after a late night of contra (love) and then packing. Let me tell you, packing simultaneously for Wisconsin weather and California weather is not an easy task. I did two suitcase upgrades before all of my stuff fit properly. By that point I had extra space and started reconsidering some of the things I had ruled out, but then I decided I should go to bed.

I slept on the bus to Boston, waited for my plane, slept on my plane, got to Minneapolis, got delayed two hours due to weather, finally got on (and slept on) the next plane, circled around waiting to land in San Francisco, landed, taxi to hotel, hotel.

I flew clear across the country today! That is over 3,000 miles my friend.
I think our plane got struck by lightening, which is a normal and perfectly safe thing since its a metal box and all, but it was still remarkable to see the flash and hear this boom (and hear a woman, faint of heart and mind, cry out in fright) at the same time!
I got on the ground and had a message from my dad saying the plane that crashed in Philadelphia was not him.
A man in the airport told me a taxi would cost $45 and he had a limo for $40 if I could wait a little bit for him to find one other person to share the ride. I denied this offer. I don't really know why. Probably to prove that he is a liar and a taxi only costs $37.
My hotel has a Bose speaker that I can listen to my ipod on.
My hotel also has fancy rosemary mint shampoo, and I just am so excited to take a shower in the morning.
There is a Kinko's directly across the street.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

back home

Friday we packed up a lot of our equipment, and I hit the road on saturday. The rocket integration is not completed, but my advisor is there overlooking things now so that I can have some time to do work at home.

On the ten hour drive back I listened to the same radio station the entire time. It was very good. It was a station that plays only music for hip kids. I called it my ten hours of musical education. I heard a few songs I recognized. I also heard a lot of songs that I have come to recognize and like in these past five weeks of being spoiled with xm radio. In an attempt to figure out what these songs were I was writing little snippets of the lyrics on the back of my maps. I haven't yet looked at it to see if I will be able to decipher the writing, but hopefully I'll get a few out of it.

Last night I got home, took a shower, and went to sleep. The saddest part about my return was that I forgot that the hot and cold directions of our shower knob were switched. In fact I'm still a little suspicious that it somehow got changed while I was gone, because I really just don't remember that. Then, I woke up this morning and didn't know where I was. That has only ever happened to me if I am staying in a hotel, and now it has happened in my own home, how sad. But aside from that, I am so so happy to be home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

final week (hopefully)

Today, December 1, marks the one month point for time spent in Virginia.

Last night, I was sitting in my paradise, watching gilmore girls and sewing, when, all of a sudden, a siren starts sounding. The siren was reminiscent of the tornado warning sirens we used to hear in Wisconsin. Tornado on Chincoteague? Not likely, but maybe it is a warning for some sort of other severe weather? Also, if it was a tornado I was pretty much out of luck, seeing as how the house is up on stilts and there is definitely not a basement. I checked and there was nothing to take note of, so I have no idea what was going on. For all I know it could have meant the wild ponies were running rampant on the island.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A friday morning in Chincoteague

Well progress has been slow or negative lately, so I had big plans to start my morning off in some sort of spectacular, not the usual routine, kind of way. What better way to make a morning spectacular than with some sort of specialty coffee beverage. So far I have been unsuccessful in finding such a thing on Chincoteague, but was I going to let that stop me? No way!

Every day I drive past this place labeled 'Cafe' and I have heard they have one of the best breakfasts on the island. So I leave my apartment, wearing a shirt I magically found that I didn't know I even packed (increasing spectacular level of my morning, obviously), and stop at Cafe. I walk in. It is a room with a bunch of tables and an old couple sitting in the corner. Now what? I wanted to quickly depart and act like it never happened. Surely gas station coffee will be better than whatever encounter I'm about to have? Too late. The door rang this annoyingly loud bell, and now a woman was coming out. "Hi I'm actually just looking for a cup of coffee to go. You don't have any flavored or special coffee by chance do you?" The lady smiled at me, but I still saw a hint of the who-does-this-girl-think-she-is look. "We just have regular coffee hun." "Okay whatever you have would be great," I respond while thinking, I should probably stop at the gas station too. So she brings me some coffee, and little creamers, and she is very nice to me. I walk out, not totally defeated, but at least a little disappointed.

I continue my drive to Wallops, without doctoring the coffee first, wondering if it is even worth it. When. All of a sudden. I realize that the bridge is opening or something and I can't even get off the island! This has happened before. It is about a five to ten minute delay. No big deal. And I'd still have time to spare to stop at the gas station! So as I'm waiting (inconveniently located behind a huge dump truck so I can't even see what is going on), I decide to doctor up and drink the coffee. And I sit there. And drink my coffee. And sit there. And we are well beyond the ten minute point. And the guy in the car behind me is on his second cigarette. And we are just sitting. And people are out of their cars walking around! And still just sitting. I finish my coffee. Finally we are free and can leave Chincoteague. Unfortunately there was no longer time to stop for some sort of specialty coffee. Perhaps I will try again tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

killer pony

Last night a killer chincoteague pony charged me! I was minding my own business, walking to my car in the parking lot, when, out of nowhere, I hear this trotting noise. The noise gets louder, I walk more slowly, and in a moment of complete shock the pony (don't be fooled this thing was huge) comes running down the sidewalk. Running down the sidewalk? YES! So there I am, walking to my car and a pony is running down the sidewalk (I don't think the shock has gone away yet). I think to myself, okay well this is Chincoteague and they are pretty into their wild ponies so lets just not worry about it. And that was when the pony changed his course and turned right into my parking lot. Toward me! Now I can start to panic. So luckily there was some vehicle next to me, and I immediately turn around (I never know which kind of wild beasts you are supposed to turn away from and which you should never turn away from), and walk quite quickly to the opposite side of the car. The whole time this pony is running closer and closer to me, and while I wouldn't normally be afraid of a pony, I was shaking in my boots, because I'm pretty sure I haven't said this yet, but this guy was huge, and wild, and running toward me, which all adds up to a pretty unpredictable wild, killer chincoteague pony. So luckily he did not follow me to the opposite side of my safety car because I probably would have peed my pants. I made a break for it and ran to my car. Moments later two police cars come driving into the parking lot and pretty much corner the pony at the far end, giving me even more reason to be worried about an encounter with this pony, because he was clearly being pushed around by those police officers/cars. At this point I drove away, never to know what came of that pony, but really, I think that is fine by me. Who would have thought I'd have such crazy adventures in Chincoteague!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Killer Ponies!

I had a lovely weekend on Chincoteague. On friday night I managed to go to sleep at 9pm. I was in a room in the main house because Jim and Jean had already rented the apartment before I asked them for it. It worked out really nicely though, and I had my own area which was good. They really are amazing people, and it was nice to be around some others for the weekend. They cooked dinner for me friday night, delicious pasta and shrimp. I also got to have dinner with them on saturday, which was wildly delicious, including some magical chocolate cake, which I will try to duplicate sometime.

Saturday morning the weather was quite nice, so I went for a run. A 2.7 mile run actually. Which is my new longest ever, actually. When I got back I took a bath in this cool old fashioned bathtub, which was also quite nice. The rest of the day it rained, so I was glad I got out when I did. On the plus side, the rainy dreary weather made it the perfect day to watch a lot of gilmore girls and also get some reading done.

Sunday was a beautiful day. I got up at a reasonable hour and did some birding with Jim and Jean. They get quite an assortment of shore-type birds right in their backyard (not really surprising). I saw no less than a cormorant, a bald eagle, two varieties of egrets, and a kingfisher. What can I say, a girl loves to make her mother proud. Then I went to church with the locals. In the afternoon I borrowed a sweet bike from Jim and Jean and rode out to the refuge. I finally hunted down those elusive wild ponies I've been hearing so much about. It was a shining moment for me and the blue beach cruiser. Unfortunately I have no pictures, because I did not bring my camera, because I'm a free spirit like that. I'll try to take some pictures next weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dove Messages

Send a love letter this week.
Don't think about it so much.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Don't think about it so much.
Naughty can be nice.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Send a love letter this week.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Go against the grain.
Sometimes one smile means more than a dozen roses.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Make "someday" today.
Lose yourself in a moment.
Don't think about it so much.
Go against the grain.
Send a love letter this week.
Love without rules.
Love without rules.
Engage, embrace, enjoy.
Bring your life to life: stop planning, start doing.
Think of someone who makes you smile.
Be spontaneous.
Start a good habit today.

Inventing ways to occupy my time

Day 3 has arrived and still the NASA guys are not ready for me. I think we are getting very close. Various mustached men keep telling me that progress is being made, or that I will get to do something soon. Both are very encouraging. It is also encouraging to see that people are actually working in our bay today.

Yesterday after work I just went home to cook in my Paradise. Jim called me and invited me over, so I went to the main house and finally got to meet Jean. They are both really lovely people. The first thing Jean said to me was that I really looked like a Meghan, and I appreciated that. We had a glass of wine and talked about an assortment of things which did not include politics, which I also appreciated.

I was also warned of a possible 'nor-easter' which basically involves the water rising up to tire level. I asked if that meant the tops of the tires or the bottoms and they said bottoms, so that is good. Plus the house is on stilts, so I don't think I have anything to worry about.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Paradise for Two

So I thought it would be a good idea to invent a blog to keep track of my month long work trip in Virginia. Then I realized I already had a blog, which makes things so much easier.

Yesterday I left the barn promptly at 7:30 am, which was no easy task, since I did manage to get to the halloween party and I also managed to have a pretty good time and probably stay up too late. I had to stop by Hanover for my fish and coffee, and then I was off. The drive was long and uneventful. I have this sweet rental car. It's an Impala. It has leather seats, seat heaters, xm radio, and a huge trunk, which is much needed for all of the stuff I have with me.

I have with me:
13 boxes of lab/research stuff
2 suitcases
1 backpack
~4 bags of other stuff
6 seasons of Gilmore Girls
8 books
my fish
1 sewing machine
and a slackline.

The trip was nicely uneventful. Once I thought I was going in completely the wrong direction, but it turned out that I wasn't, which is good because I wouldn't have had the opportunity to fix it for about 20 miles. I drove over two huge bridges. The first one had signs posted saying something to the effect of:
Life is worth living
and then there was a phone number to call if you were struggling with life. It made me really sad to realize there was a purpose for them being placed where they were.

Anyhow. I arrived at my Paradise for Two earlier than I had expected. I got here right around 6pm. The place I am staying is this little apartment flat which is connected to the house of Jim and Jean, who are lovely people. I've only actually met Jim so far, but I had been emailing back and forth with both of them before I arrived. The place is really great, even though I am here alone and it was advertised as "Paradise for Two" (but at least I've got my fish with me). I have my own little deck that looks out over the water even.

I took this picture this morning after getting 11 hours of sleep last night.

And here I am, in the afternoon of day 2. This morning I went to church with the locals and then did a little grocery shopping. Jim gave me some coffee beans yesterday so I could make coffee this morning and everything! I got back and went for a 2.5 mile run which was my longest ever with no walking. I feel pretty good about that.

Also, I did not find any Pirate Booty in the grocery store. I really want to buy some of this stuff, so if anyone knows where I can find it let me know. I might just be looking in the wrong section of the Food Lion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Perhaps the hardest part is getting on to the trail." Bill Bryson

Last weekend Malory arrived on friday night for a visit to NH/VT. We had two days to gear up for the great hiking adventure we planned out (we bought matching zip-off pants!) and then on Monday we hit the trail. sort of. I got the official AT trailguide and we had Laura drop us off, and we thought we were just where we needed to be, but apparently we were not, because we walked about 6 miles with those huge 40 lb. packs on our backs trying to find it and we never did. It was pretty horrible. After we had a chance to not be so angry about not finding the trail, we figured it was probably for the best though, because we may have been over-estimating our skills. So we called Laura and had her rescue us.

So then we had to come up with a new plan. So we decided to camp on the island on tuesday night and then go to the Trapper John shelter on Wednesday night. When we went to rent a canoe the sign said it was open, but there wasn't a desk worker there. I had to renew my membership from last year, so we waited around awhile. Then some people came in, and then had just taken a canoe since no one was there. They thought we were the workers and kind of apologized to us. Then we decided to do the same, so we left an IOU with my info on it, and took a canoe. It rained that night, but we were prepared for rain so we stayed dry. And it stopped raining in the morning, so we could pack up our stuff without being too wet. Then we decided to do some extra hiking and go to the next shelter at Moose Mountain.

Since we were having such a great time, and also since we had an abundance of food we decided to stay one extra night. Unfortunately, it rained our last night and our tent got wet, so that kind of sucked. But we had only a mile to hike back to my car, so it was fine.

I'll be sure to add photos once I get them off my camera. Do check back for that update!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A collection of email updates from Svalbard

Date: 28 December 2007

Subject: preliminary Norway update

Hei på deg,

By parental request, I will try to send frequent updates about SCIFER-2, the rocket that we have been preparing to launch for the past year. I'm not sure how much free time I will have once I get to Norway, so I figure I would get a head start and send an email before I even leave! If you want me to stop sending you these emails, just ask, or if you know of anyone who would like to be getting them, let me know.

In case I don't follow through with updates, here is our page that might get updated during the launch campaign:
Currently I don't think any of the SCIFER-2 links are working, but there are other rocket pages you can look at if you want.

Here is a link to the science center where I will be working:
A different picture comes up every time you load the page, so if you want to see more photos just keep refreshing the page.

Also, you may or may not be aware, but I am borrowing some cold weather gear. This includes a mansuit, and large boots. I have attached some photos for your viewing pleasure.

I will be on the mainland of Norway for the first couple days, and then I will be on Svalbard for the launch.

Here is some general info I have:
Population of Longyearbyen (city I will be in mostly): 1,800
latitude: 78 degrees (which is above the arctic circle, so it will be dark the entire time I'm there)



Date: 31 December 2007

Subject: Happy New Year('s eve) from Norway!

Well even though I am celebrating the New Year earlier than you, it won't be for some more hours. I have a short break before we head to town to buy some fireworks and get dinner. There is only one restaurant in town and they are closing early tonight.

The Dartmouth page is being updated, if you haven't looked. There are a few new pictures posted:

Tomorrow the NASA guys have the day off, and then the launch window opens from the 2nd to the 15th. Basically we wait for good conditions and watch all sorts of charts until things are looking the way we want them to. If you are interested, one of the pages I like to look at is the Space Weather Now page ( There is an image of the sun, where you can see sunspots (if there are any). Also, in the top right corner it says if there have been any storms (which are good, they give us a lot of activity and interesting science). The best plot is the one on the bottom left. In order to launch we want the solar wind speed to go way up (around 600 km/s), the magnetic field Bz component to go away from zero (in either positive or negative direction, we are not picky), and the pressure to go up.

The Carrington Rotation (rotation of the sun) is a 28 day cycle, and it usually repeats regularly, so we can predict when we might get good conditions for launching. We've got a pool going, and my kroners are on the 8th, so wish me luck!


Date: 3 January 2008

Subject: I made it to Svalbard!

So I just arrived in Longyearbyen, which is so very cold and windy. There are wind gusts at 22 m/s, which is more than 44mph wind gusts, if you were wondering. The past two days it has been warmer (slightly above freezing temp.) so it was raining and everything is covered in ice. So basically I stand outside, and I get pushed right down the road from the wind.

At any rate, it is an amazing town from what I can tell. I haven't taken any photos yet, but when I do I will be sure to send them on.

As for the rocket, we haven't launched it yet. I think they are still working on clearing roads, plus there wasn't very interesting science today. On our webpage ( there is a link on the side that says space weather, and on the bottom of that page we have all sorts of webpages listed that are relevant for Scifer-2. I just added pages with weather forecasts for Longyearbyen, so you can check that out.

I am currently at UNIS, which is the college here. I guess this is where we will be until they can clear the roads to the other sites. As always, I'll be sure to keep you updated!



Date: 3 January 2008

Subject: also

I just found this cool webpage with Svalbard webcams, and quite a few of them are in Longyearbyen:


Date: 5 January 2008

Subject: report from Svalbard


So much has been going on here since I last had a chance to email. Yesterday was our first day up at KHO, which is the auroral observatory. It is located out of town to reduce light pollution. The road had been cleared up to the mine (so the workers could get in), and the avalanche danger passed, so we drove up to the mine, and then rode in a bandwagon the rest of the way (another 5 minutes or so). When we got to the station there was a huge snowbank just outside the door (probably 8 feet tall), so the more daring of the group were sliding down the slope right into the front door.

Last night the plow finally came through and cleared it all out. So today we drove all the way up to the station. Today the scientific conditions have been great, but we cannot launch due to high winds at the launch site. There are strong northward winds, which would actually catch the fins on the motors and change the direction of the rocket to go southward, which would be bad. So we are out for winds today. The launch window is nearly over, and it doesn't look like the wind is going to die down, so I don't think we will be launching today.

Also, yesterday we got a tour of Eiscat, which is pretty sweet. You can see photos here:
It was too dark for me to take any pictures of the dishes, but they are absolutely huge.

Then last night when we got back into town, and again after dinner, we saw a Svalbard reindeer, which is white! I did get a picture of him, so I will attach that.

Okay we just decided to close the launch window for today, so I need to pack up and get ready to head out.



Date: 5 January 2008

Subject: rocket blog

Marc Lessard, one of the Co-Investigators for this rocket, who is a professor at UNH is writing in a rocket blog for Scifer-2. He is doing some sort of project with a group of high schoolers, so he gives pretty good explanations of the rocket for people with a non-scientific background.

So if you are interested:


Date: 9 January 2008

Subject: no launch yet..

Well things in Longyearbyen are about the same. I was really hoping yesterday would be our launch day, but it was not. It was, however, the first day of the window that we were "in for winds" which was a nice change. Every other day it was too windy to launch, and sometimes even too windy to raise the rocket to vertical. Right now I'm not sure if we are in for winds or out for winds, but we aren't seeing any great science yet, so it doesn't really matter.

Last night we tried to go to the northernmost thai restaurant, but it was still not open. There was a different restaurant open, so we went there, but it wasn't very "norwegian" like The Husset, which is the place we normally go.

On Monday we took a walk into town, which is pretty safe. People walk around here all the time, but I was never sure if they were carrying guns for polar bear protection or not, but apparently in town it is okay to not be armed. I took a picture of the town, which I've attached.

I also attached a picture of the sign we drive by every day on our way to the observatory. The Norwegian translates to something like "On All of Svalbard".

I think that is all for now. As always, wish us luck!



Date: 10 January 2008

Subject: aurora sighting!

This morning as we were arriving at the observatory we saw some brilliant aurora overhead. Fred Sigernes was outside taking photos, which I've attached. The fourth one, with people, is Paul Kitner (PI), me, Erik Lundberg (Cornell grad student), and Marc Lessard (UNH co-investigator) from left to right.

Also, the dartmouth webpage is being updated regularly:

On that page you can find a link to the UNH blog which gives a lot of good info on the rocket, and it is written for people without a scientific background.



Date: 13 January 2008

Subject: meeting the queen of Norway


We haven't launched our rocket yet, but there is still the window today. Tomorrow we have to take a day off, because NASA has some rule about their engineers only being able to work 14 consecutive days.

However, the big news for tomorrow is that the Queen of Norway is coming to KHO (the observatory where we are stationed), for a visit. Apparently she really likes Svalbard. I think she is a pretty great queen. You can read about her on wikipedia if you want:

Also, since we don't have the opportunity to launch tomorrow I'm hoping to spend some time at EISCAT, which is the radar station just down the road from here. You can see some pretty great pictures of the huge radar dishes here:



Date: 16 January 2008

Subject: eventful svalbard

HEI! So many eventful things have been going on since I last wrote.

1. The queen got sick and had to cancel her trip to Svalbard. Everyone was very disappointed.

2. We left the observatory on monday, by driving down to the mine in the bandwagon since the road was not clear enough for a car, and when we tried to start our car it was completely dead. The guys decided it would be a good idea to try to push the car downhill a bit to see if that would help it start. It did not, but it was a great photo opportunity.

2 and a half. Two polar bears were spotted near Longyearbyen. One was on the plateau (which isn't really near us), and the other was in the valley (which is the route we drive to the station every day).

3. For the day off on tuesday, I planned to go with Hanna (the swedish grad student who works on optical instruments, that we may use in comparison with rocket data) to EISCAT. EISCAT is the ground radar station, and they do some pretty sweet stuff there, so I thought I would check it out for a day. I got to sleep in because we didn't leave until 5am. It was pretty windy, and Hanna had been warned that the roads might not be great. So she brought the rifle along, in case we ended up needing to walk the last stretch of road to EISCAT, for safety reasons (see point 2 and a half). Well it turns out there was a snowbank of indeterminable size that we determined was quite large upon getting Hanna's truck stuck in it. We couldn't even back out. Luckily while we were trying to make our decision about who to call, a snowplow came by and helped pull us out. If you leave a car stuck in the snow it is quickly buried and could take hours to shovel out. So we drove back down to town, and that was the end of my EISCAT adventure. I did take (and attach) a picture of this, but all you can really see is the snow.

4. Last night Hanna and I saw the movie Far North. They had a premiere of it at The Huset (which translates to house). The director and actors (including Michelle Yeoh from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) were all there to introduce the film. It was filmed largely in Svalbard and there were some locals in the movie, so it was a big deal to see it. I think half of the population of Svalbard was there. I don't think I would recommend the movie though. It had really great shots of the scenery here, but the movie (especially the end) was extremely intense.

5. The weather is still quite blustery here. The space weather is looking more interesting today. Unfortunately it is too windy at the launch site to raise the rocket, so we just wait. Including today we only have 5 days left in the window, so we are really hoping we get some good launch conditions soon.

6. The other day I took a picture of the sky at noon, when you can just start to see a bit of light, so I attached that as well.



Date: 18 January 2008

Subject: LAUNCHED!

We just launched our rocket at 07:30UT. Everything worked nominally and it seems we have good data!

very verry exciting!!


Date: 18 January 2008

Subject: local confusion about our rocket

The local newspapers are having a good time with this one:

Here it has been reported "UFO over Senja":

Also, it has been confirmed by astronomers to be a large meteor: