STATUS: Today was the first day we were "up" (sort of). We are sharing the launch range with another mission, called ECOMA. The goal of ECOMA is to ... quantify the effect of the Geminids on the properties of meteor smoke particles, by launching a total of three sounding rockets in combination with a wealth of different ground based observations. Their work, clearly, is very different than ours and happens to require that they recover the payload from their first launch. Since their payload lands in the ocean, it needs to be recovered by boat, but with seas at 6 meters from the recent winds, they had to "scrub" today because of the high seas.

This meant that, in principle, we were clear to go ahead and launch anytime. Unfortunately, winds at the launch rail were still so strong that we were not even allowed to elevate the payload, so it remained horizontal, under the protection of the shelter. In any case, the solar wind was so weak that it really did not matter. While we did have very good skies (clear) for the most part, both in Longyearbyen and in Ny Ålesund, and some aurora, it was very weak and not well organized. At no point would we have considered launching today.

OUTLOOK: We are now approaching, we believe, a period with increased activity. Over the next 2-3 days, we have every reason to expect improved solar wind conditions - stronger magnetic field, higher density (well, it could not get much lower than it has been!) and increased solar wind speed. The same active region that first appeared several days ago is nearing the region on the sun where we should start to feel its effects. The forecast for the ground winds at the launch range is good; the forecast is also for clear skies in Longyearbyen and Ny Ålesund, at least for tomorrow, but maybe the Sunday, too. The next few days will be very important for us.

OTHER: It was very windy yesterday. With a lot of the electronic ground equipment situated in trailers and vans, the wind tends to push things around. Below is a snippet of a discussion that took place yesterday, in response to the wind:

7:47 PM: lost power in supervan -- range personnel on way to investigate
7:52 PM: Science trailer still has power. Buffeting winds shaking trailer quite a bit
8:15 PM: I now see lights on at the supervan
8:16 PM: sounds like a generator running
8:25 PM: science trailer really really shaking now
8:26 PM: power flickering in science trailer.
8:26 PM: We are powering down equipment now

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