Sept. 20 Open House at U-M’s Space Physics Lab

January 8, 2007

ANN ARBOR—High school science students, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, future astronauts or anyone interested in learning more about the aurora borealis, solar flares, space tethers and other fascinating phenomena in Earth’s upper atmosphere are invited to visit the University of Michigan’s Space Physics Research Laboratory on Sept. 20 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. SPRL is located at 2455 Hayward Street on the U-M’s North Campus.

Visitors can see demonstrations of how scientists measure wind speeds and electricity in the upper atmosphere, meet the principal investigator on NASA’s recent space tether experiment, view a special exhibit titled “Exploring our Plasma Universe,” and learn more about ongoing research projects in the laboratory.

All demonstrations and exhibits are free and open to the public and are part of the Space Physics Research Laboratory’s 50th Anniversary Symposium and Open House. SPRL is one of the oldest university-owned laboratories involved in the design, construction, testing and operation of instruments for space flight. Since its founding in 1946, SPRL instruments have probed the mysteries of the universe on everything from sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons to satellites and the space shuttle.

Events scheduled for the general public on Sept. 20 include:

From 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. in Room 1418 of the Space Physics Research Laboratory:

–“Exploring Our Plasma Universe” – This 750-square-foot, full-color exhibit explains how charged particles from the sun interact with the Earth’s magnetic field to produce beautiful atmospheric displays called the aurora borealis or “Northern lights.” Developed by the Space Science Institute at the University of Colorado, the traveling exhibit is funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

From 3 – 5:30 p.m. in Room 2246 of the Space Physics Research Laboratory:

–Assistant research scientist Rick Niciejewski will demonstrate equipment used in his research on upper atmospheric wind speeds and temperatures in a presentation titled, “Fabry- Perot Interferometer: Can You See the Fringe?”

–Assistant professor Brian Gilchrist, principal investigator for NASA’s 1996 space tether experiment on the space shuttle, will answer your questions and demonstrate how scientists use space tethers to make electricity and explore Earth’s upper atmosphere in a presentation titled, “Space Tethers: Science Fiction to Science Reality.”

–U-M students affiliated with SEDS?Students for the Exploration and Development of Space?will be on hand to describe an experiment they are designing for a future space shuttle mission.

U-M News and Information ServicesUniversity of Michigan