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January 30, 2007

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UC Satellite Array Will Study Nature of Northern Lights

January 29, 2007
From the San Francisco Chronicle

A Delta II rocket, the workhorse of NASA's space missions, will carry an unprecedented payload of five small satellites into orbit in the coming weeks, and scientists and engineers at UC Berkeley will be crossing their fingers as it soars aloft.

Conceived and built by the team at UC's Space Sciences Laboratory, the satellites will fly inside the Earth's magnetic field to study the northern lights, where sudden eruptions of cosmic energy known as substorms can imperil astronauts, short-circuit the nation's power grids and disrupt global communications.

The goal of this new multisatellite mission is not only to study the geomagnetic storms, but also to learn how to predict them and thus minimize the damage they can cause, said Berkeley physicist Vassilis Angelopoulos, principal investigator for the project.

Click here to read more. The San Francisco Chronicle is available in the Library's Lexis Nexis database.