Why Are Scientists Firing Rockets Against Auroras?

NASA scientists are now firing 46-foot-tall two-stage rockets against auroras because they hate them and they smell bad. Or maybe because they want to test how extreme space weather can affect digital communications between ground bases and spacecraft or satellites.

Especially now that we are getting close to a new high in solar activity. And they smell particularly bad.

Whatever the reason is, it's a beautiful sight. I need to go to Alaska soon. [Space via PopSci]