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LASP Rocket Program

LASP rocket program team members stand before a sounding rocket at the White Sands Missile Range in 2011. (Courtesy LASP)

LASP was originally founded to develop a stabilized platform for instruments launched aboard sub-orbital rockets. Our rocketry program remains strong today; currently, it’s supported by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) mission in order to calibrate the SDO EUV Variability Experiment (EVE).

Sounding rocket launches are planned annually throughout the SDO mission’s five-year duration. We provide the scientific payload; the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Wallops Flight Facility and their subcontractors provide the rocket motors and control subsystems as part of the NASA Sounding Rockets Program. EVE calibration flights are supported by the NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract (NSROC).

LASP often works with organizations such as the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to design and develop rocket payloads

The LASP rocket program investigators are as follows:

  • Tom Woods, PI, is responsible for instrument hardware and solar UV irradiance analyses, and is the PI of the EVE instrument and the Solar EUV Experiment (SEE) onboard the NASA TIMED mission. Contact: 303-492-4224
  • Frank Eparvier is responsible for the solar EUV irradiance instruments and analyses. Contact: 303-492-4546
  • Andrew Jones is responsible for the solar EUV irradiance instruments and analyses. Contact: 303-735-0914

The LASP rocket program engineers are as follows:

  • Michael Klapetzky, contact: 303-492-1152
  • Rick Kohnert, contact: 303-492-6804
  • Greg Ucker, contact: 303-492-5795

Current update

A paper, describing results from the Amptek X123 spectrometer flights in June 2012 and October 2013, was featured in the March 18, 2015 Astrophysical Journal Letters. The X123 instrument will be flown on the upcoming MinXSS CubeSat. A related NASA feature describes the measurements of solar soft X-rays from the X123 sounding rocket flights:

The following video shows the successful NASA 36.290 launch on October 21, 2013, from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The scientific rocket carried a near-replica of the SDO EVE satellite to check the performance of the EVE optical system. Both EVE and the prototype were built at LASP.

Based on the real time data collected from this launch, all of the rocket EVE instrument channels made excellent solar EUV irradiance measurements.

The next rocket payload launch is planned for May 21, 2015, also from the White Sands Missile Range. This NASA flight 36.300 will provide the fifth underflight calibration for the EVE instrument.

(Video courtesy LASP/Chris Jeppesen)