Source: ESA


Most important facts
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Training week 1
Training week 2
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Vidar Hølland


Nordic Ionospheric Sounding rocket Seeding Experiment (NISSE)

The Nordic Ionospheric Sounding rocket seeding Experiment (NISSE) will be launched onboard of the REXUS 6 rocket on 10th March 2009 from Esrange, Kiruna.

In the experiment water will be released at about 95 km altitude. The possible impact of the water to the upper atmosphere will be explored by using the powerful EISCAT radar system.

What happend to NISSE? Does NISSE see space another time? Read here

Days before


Last day

Eleventh Day

12th Mar 2009:

REXUS 6 successfully launched - NISSE: A partial success

It was a textbook launch at 11:08 LT (See YouTube: REXUS 6 launch ). Before eight in the morning the helicopter scanned the impact area for human beings. The wind ballons were launched for the trajectory calculation of the rocket. The sirens started and the control room filled with highly concentrating people. To keep the excitement high, the EISCAT radar first decided not to work, because of a full home directory:-) But one hour before the launch everything was ready and by using the calculated nominal trajectory file the EISCAT was redirected, pointing at the expected water release position. Blue sky and no wind made the launch conditions perfect. REXUS 6 was successfully launched to 88 km and everything came down in perfect shape, including the 11 litres of water. The team is currently investigating the payload.
Press releases can be downloaded here in English and Finnish language:
Press release (Finnish)
Press release (English)

Today's photos:

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Last day

Tenth Day

11th Mar 2009:

ESA lectures

Today was filled with lectures given by ESA about presentations, job interviews and meetings. A short break in the afternoon allowed the entire NISSE team to go cross-country skiing in the beautiful and wild scenery of Kiruna.
In the evening a system engineer course took place and NISSE had a photo shooting as well as an interview for the well-known Finnish Stars- and Space magazine.
Due to some problems with the other experiment onboard of REXUS 6, the rocket was once again taken apart and we were allowed to shortly visit the launch area and take the last pictures before tomorrow at 11:06 the rocket will finally leave our Earth for a short trip to space.

Today's photos:

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Day 1 hold

Ninth Day

10th Mar 2009:

Visit to EISCAT radar

Although the rocket is on the rocket launcher and ready to be fired to space, the hot countdown had to be shifted to presumably Thursday morning. Noone of us students can visit the launch area anymore, since the rocket contains explosives and the motor is attached to it. There are strict rules in Esrange like not to use any mobile phones or remote car keys in the launching area in order to not interfere with possible launch signals. To read more about the rocket launch, click on Most important facts
Today we first had a short ESA lecture about the spacecraft testing centre located at ESTEC followed by a discussion on project management. In the afternoon we visited together with our coach Eija Tanskanen the EISCAT UHF radar site. A video of the movement of the impressive huge dish with 32 m diameter will be added later. You can follow the movement of the impressive huge dish with 32 m diameter at VIDEO: EISCAT UHF radar in action. Timo will move three of such dishes, located in Norway, Finland and Sweden simultaneously during the launch to point at the water release of NISSE. The Tromsø, Norway, radar sends the signals towards the water release region and the other two receive the signal after being scattered by the particles in the atmosphere.

Today's photos:

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Day 1

Eighth Day

9th Mar 2009:

Test Countdown

After a brief status report we had a lecture about verification. The next event was the photo shooting for the media.
In the afternoon the last preparations were made for the test countdown. Around 17:30 (takes 2h 45min) the test countdown started. Everything went more or less like planned. Tomorrow there will be no REXUS 6 launch due to the balloon experiment taking place tonight. The next possible hot countdown for REXUS 6 is on Wednesday.

Today's photos:

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Day 2

Seventh Day

8th Mar 2009:

Assemble the payload

Today we started our work straight in the assembly hall. We wrote the launch countdown checklist for the first test countdown, taking place tomorrow afternoon. The REXUS 6 payload was mounted and moved to the pyrotechnics hall, in which will be mated with the rocket motor.
In the evening there was an outreach practice held by the ESA communication manager, pumping up everyones heartbeat.

Today's photos:

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Day 3

Sixth Day

7th Mar 2009:

A day off

There was no morning meeting today. The Esrange and DLR staff assembled the REXUS 5 rocket, so we were given permission to have a day off.

Gisela arrived today so the whole gang went to pick her up from the airport. After that we drove to Kiruna for shopping. On the way back to Esrange we visited the Kiruna EISCAT radar and had a quick look at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi.

Today's photos:

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Day 4

Fifth Day

6th Mar 2009:

Diapers bought and EISCAT data analyzed

In the morning meeting the schedule for the next few days was updated. Today was mainly reserved to the other rocket REXUS 5 for which the flight simulation was performed.
The potential leakage problem in NISSE which may occur during the launch was solved by deciding to use diapers to absorb the water that could leak during the acceleration. A preliminary decision of the EISCAT radar modulation was made after further data analysis. Currently we think to use manda. Tomorrow the REXUS 6 flight simulation will be made and the rocket assembled.
The Mipas-B/Telis balloon launch last night was cancelled due to strong winds above altitude of few hundred meters. The next countdown will be next week.

Today's photos:

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Day 5

Fourth Day

5th Mar 2009:

Experiment preparation continued

The day started again with updating the status of the experiments in the morning meeting. As usual we continued the day with the experiment preparation in the assembly hall.
Vidar finished mounting the electronics to the REXUS 6 service module and armed the explosives on NISSE. He had to use antistatic clothes and be grounded during the mounting to prevent electrostatic discharges that could ignite the explosives.(See VIDEO: Water Release Test ) Timo analyzed yesterday's EISCAT measurements. Preliminary analysis showed that manda worked best at the altitude region of interest (90-95 km).
In the evening, DLR engineers tested one of the parachute modules and suddenly a small explosion occurred followed by a cloud of smoke streaming out of the module. Hopefully nothing important was destroyed.

Today's photos:

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Day 6

Third Day

4th Mar 2009:

Experiment preparation and EISCAT testing

In the morning meeting all groups stated their current preparation status. NISSE was hoping to be ready for launch after today. The other REXUS 6 student experiment, AGADE, requested still three more days.
After this meeting teams continued the experiment preparation in the assembly hall. Vidar and Gard fixed the water leakage in the NISSE's piping system by replacing the defect parts with new ones. Then the water tank was filled up.
Timo went to the EISCAT site and carried out the background test measurements. The Tromsø UHF antenna was pointed close to the calculated nominal rocket apogee region where the water is to be released. Three different types of radar modulation were examined. The data still needs to be analyzed.
In the evening NISSE was tested according to the time schedule of the REXUS 6 service module. Everything seemed to work well. The explosives still have to be mounted before the experiment is ready for launch.

Today's photos:

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Day 7

Second Day

3rd Mar 2009:

First Meeting

Today started with a safety briefing and a small outreach workshop in the morning. The rest of the day the teams spent in the assembly hall of the launch area preparing their experiments.
The water, that had been in the tank since sending it to Oberpfaffenhofen in mid-January, was taken out of NISSE. It was noticed that one part of the piping system is leaking and one piece needs to be replaced. The Esrange staff will arrange the new part tomorrow.
The EISCAT UHF radar is working again - what a relief when considering that the test measurements will be already tomorrow.

Today's photos:

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Day 8


2nd Mar 2009:

Arrival to Esrange in Kiruna, the rocket range

The day was reserved for travelling. Vidar and Gard missed their continuation flight from Stockholm to Kiruna due to a delay of their plane from Oslo. They arrived in the middle of the night. Timo drove from Oulu to Kiruna by car. Gisela will join the rest of the team on Saturday 7 March.
Before driving to Esrange, Timo visited shortly the EISCAT Kiruna site. There are still problems with the Tromsø UHF receiver system, but the staff is fixing it - hopefully before Wednesday.

Today's photo: The EISCAT Kiruna receiver antenna in action

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Last update: 11.02.2010