Reykjavic, The Northern Lights and Bug Hunting

I’m sure most people have seen our stratospheric bug hunting in some form before, (see here)

This launch was a little different. The aim was to launch at night from far enough North to maybe see the Aurora Borealis from near space!

Having collected supplies during the day on Monday, we launched just after midnight in the snow. Conditions were slightly blustery and cold, snowing hard.

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The flight lasted approximately 3hrs and we knew our sample capture mechanism had worked and was open between 26km and 28km. The balloon continued to 33km. Ascent rate was slower than anticipated (a result of the cold?) which resulted in a drift further than expected. The payload landed in a lava field (a frozen one!) on the Reykjavic peninsula. We decided that recovery was not an option that night and so returned to Reykjavic to explore options. We contacted an ATV company in the morning who said they would guide us out to the landing site on quad bikes. Payload was recovered just before lunchtime on Wednesday, bagged and packed away.

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But then what do you do if you’ve hired an ATV and guide for the day in one of the most beautiful countries we’ve been to?

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And did we see anything from the flight footage of the Aurora?

Well… no. Turns out it was too dark for the cameras to pick anything out. Or the snow hampered the lenses. Hard to tell but it meant that we needed another trip out to at least catch something at ground level. They certainly put on a show for us though!

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