STATUS: Still no launch, though we had clear skies over Svalbard and calm (enough) winds at the rocket range. The predicted high-speed stream has not yet arrived, which is a mystery (though not the first for us and, I am sure, not the last!!). Although the solar wind parameters were better than yesterday, in general, we still did not win the negative Bz battle, which is what we really need to get the aurora further south and in the EISCAT beam. David Olsen determined that, on average, our highly treasured Bz has been positive slightly more than 50% of the time for 2010 -- though I am quite sure that when a rocket is on the rail, the fraction of time that Bz is positive is much more than 50%!!!

In spite of the aurora being well to the north for most of the day, we did get treated to a burst of aurora overhead late in the window. Based on the solar wind data from ACE, this was unexpected. As it evolved, we determined we must have been seeing a Traveling Convection Vortex (TCV) which, in some sense, is a tornado-like whirlpool that drifts from the dayside to the nightside of the polar ionosphere. The process that initiates TCVs is not clear but probably is related to phenomena closer to Earth's magnetopause, which is why we did not get a hint from the ACE satellite -- located far upstream of our magnetopause. The entire event took place in something like 10 minutes. While we did move the count from T-15 to T-10 minutes, a 10-minute burst of activity is not enough to cook the ionosphere to a degree that would provide the neutral upwelling we are looking for.

OUTLOOK: From the NOAA Space Weather website, the forecast says "The geomagnetic field is expected to be at mostly unsettled levels with isolated active periods for the next three days (11 - 13 December) due to recurrent coronal hole high-speed stream effects." This was written about 12 hours ago, so we are still hoping the high-speed stream will find its way here. The skies over Svalbard should again be clear at least for another day. Winds at Andenes look like they may be marginal, but will come from the Northeast which is good for us.

OTHER: You might think that we are becoming a bit superstitious, but that is really not true. We have proven without a doubt that staring at displays of solar wind or auroral data chases the good stuff away. So, we are trying to minimize refreshing computer screens and are increasingly careful not to say stuff like "Hey! Look at .....", etc. Preliminary tests of these new procedures are, well, preliminary - but we are optimistic that these new strategies could pay off in the end

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