CEDAR 2024 Workshop: Sounding Rocket Science – June 12 from 13:30-15:30 in Pacific A&B

Dear CEDAR Community, 

Sounding rockets provide a unique observational platform into difficult to probe altitudinal regimes of the ionosphere-thermosphere (IT). Coupled with complimentary ground- and spaced-based measurements, sounding rocket campaigns facilitate data, modeling, and machine learning studies that advance our understanding of the IT system.

Please join us in the CEDAR Workshop on “Using sounding rockets to advance scientific understanding of the ionosphere-thermosphere system through independent missions and combined efforts like “Grand Challenge Initiatives for Rocket and Balloon Research — Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere and CUSP Solar Max” held Wednesday, June 12 from 13:30-15:30 in Pacific A&B.

This workshop aims to highlight new science from recent launches, questions that upcoming rockets will investigate, as well as what we are still learning from older datasets. Of special interest are the ongoing Project Mesosphere/Lower Thermosphere (M/LT) and the proposed Project CUSP Solar Max program (2025-2030), primarily taking place at the Norwegian rocket ranges of Andøya and Svalbard. These Grand Challenge Initiatives (GCI) are “follow-ons” to the highly successful GCI-Cusp campaign, led by Andøya Space of Norway, that launched 12 sounding rockets, including those provided by NASA, Norway, and Japan, from Andøya and Svalbard between Dec 2018 and Dec. 2021. This workshop seeks and will share short presentations of ongoing research using sounding rocket campaign data and discuss possible topics for both Grand Challenge Initiative programs. Student contributions are highly encouraged.

For questions or inquiries, please contact Meghan Burleigh ( or Kolbjørn Blix (

Thank you on behalf of the conveners,

Meghan Burleigh

Space and atmospheric physics on Svalbard: a case for continued incoherent scatter radar measurements under the cusp and in the polar cap boundary region

Just to let you know that the White paper which lays out a science case for a new Svalbard ISR has (finally) been published.  This was put together by the Norwegian research community.

Please feel free to pass it on to any people in the sounding rocket community / Andoya Space.


Assoc. Prof. Lisa J. Baddeley
Dept. of Geophysics
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
P.O. Box 156
N-9171 Longyearbyen

Updated July 5th: GCI CUSP 3.0 “Solar Max” meeting @CEDAR 2023

Andøya Space is organizing a meeting on the proposed follow-up to the GCI CUSP project (2018-2021) – GCI CUSP 3.0 “Solar Max”, at the ongoing CEDAR Workshop 2023 in San Diego, CA. June 27th at 1.30PM as stated in the official program 2023 CEDAR Workshop Agenda | CEDAR (

Short summary from the CEDAR meeting, June 27th:
Participants from NASA, Andøya Space (ASP) and universities from both sides of the Atlantic. Presentation by Blix regarding the former CUSP project ended in 2021, expected available infrastructure for a new CUSP version and why it’s important to establish a “Solar Max” version before vital infrastructure will be removed from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard due to no planned use.

Several GCI CUSP “Solar Max” related rocket proposals will be submitted in the time to come.

After a short discussion the agreement was that we should plan for a dedicated session at AGU Fall Meeting 2023. Updates on this in due time at this website.

GCI M/LT student rocket – GHOST; NASA MIC completed 20.4 2023

The first, and probably the most important milestone in the GCI M/LT student rocket – GHOST, was reached on April 20th. The NASA Mission Initiation Conference (MIC) was conducted online with a whole range of participants from NASA wallops, NSROCK, Andøya Space, Tromsø Uni, Oslo Uni and more.

This meeting initiated the formal process regarding the upcoming student rocket mission as part of the Grand Challenge Initiative M/LT. It contains info and requests from both NASA, rocket PI (Chris Koehler) and the participants at the time. An outline of the meeting can be viewed in the below attachment:

One of the outcomes from the MIC is that this mission will have two CO-PIs: Chris Koehler and Kolbjørn Blix.

More info from the MIC will be added as soon as the minutes are received.

Updates on the IAP DEFINE sounding rocket project

News received from PI – Boris Strelnikov at Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Rostock (IAP):

Their new sounding rocket project – Density Field in the MLT: Neutrals, Electrons, and trace gases. Radiative and dynamical balance (DEFINE) is now fully funded. Congratulations!

It must to be conducted in close coordination with the Swedish project ORIGIN.
The rocket launch is planned for January-February 2025.
One DEFINE rocket from Andøya Space and 2 ORIGIN launches from the ESRANGE.

If all goes well, the DEFINE and one of the ORIGIN rockets will be the first ever to launch simoultaneously from Andøya Space and ESRANGE.

A brief scientific summary will come soon.

Info from the workshop on “Possible new collaboration: Grand Challenge Initiative CUSP “Solar Max””

Yesterday evening, in Chicago during AGU Fall Meeting, we had a successful workshop on the proposed GCI CUSP follow-up project “GCI CUSP 3.0 Solar Max”, and as a short notice to you all before X-mas I can inform you that a solar max version of the highly successful CUSP (solar min) project is both timely and scientifically justified with regards to:

  • new and remaining questions
  • ensure access to scientific infrastructure that could otherwise be made unavailable if there are no future projects that can make use of it
  • new and upcoming ground-based/space based infrastructure

The proposed timeline is first launches around 2025-2026, but this is off course dependent on the missions being funded in the time to come.

Present at the meeting were representatives from NASA Hq, Norwegian Space Agency, Andøya Space, NASA GSFC, NASA WFF, U of New Hampshire, U of Tromsø, Clemson Uni, Dartmouth College, JHU/APL.

We will also work to get more nations into the new GCI CUSP. The former one consisted of USA, Japan and Norway only.

To ensure the necessary progress, we will also use physical meetings in this project, in which case AGU Fall Meeting and CEDAR are two good candidates. If there are more European participants, we can also consider including EGU, but only time will tell.

More info to follow after X-mas.

GCI M/LT related info from the combined EISCAT Symposium and LPMR Workshop – Aug. 14-19 2022

20th International EISCAT Symposium and 15th International Workshop on Layered Phenomena in the Mesopause Region (LPMR) has just finished at Sundbyholm Castle in Sweden.

During those five days several projects related to GCI M/LT was discussed, and new related projects came up. Several talks were also GCI M/LT related:

  • Blix et al. (invited), The Grand Challenge Initiative – CUSP and M/LT projects status and future plans
  • Lehmacher et al., VortEx: A ground-based and rocket experiment to study mesoscale dynamics in the MLT for February 2023
  • Mann et al., Investigating mesospheric dust with the MXD2 rocket campaign

In addition, we also learnt about a new sounding rocket project in our GCI – DEFINE: Density Field in the MLT: Neutrals, Electrons, and trace gases. Radiative and dynamical balance (Strelnikov & al)

Brief description:
The aim of this project is to investigate the density field of the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT,
Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere) by means of high-precision in-situ measurements. Furthermore, the concentration of neutral gas, electrons, ions and atomic oxygen in the lower thermosphere is to be measured with high precision for the first time. Simultaneous measurements of densities and temperature will significantly improve our understanding of energy balance and composition in this region. Combination of these measurements with observation of Airglow allows quantification of the radiation and chemical contributions to the energy budget. Since the density field reflects all the imprints of dynamics of the atmosphere, precise measurement of small-scale density fluctuations enables a detailed study of waves and their dissipation. This in turn allows the dynamic state of the MLT to be accurately described.

2 rockets are to be launched simultaneously in the spring of 2025: one from the Andøya Space and the other from the ESRANGE – the ORIGIN project from MISU (Gumbel & al).

If all goes well this will be the first time ever that two rockets have been launched from Andøya and ESRANGE simultaneously.

Data sharing:
One of the main activities in the GCI CUSP project was related to sharing data from rockets and ground based measurements. This is still an ongoing process, but in any case, the intention is that eventually all meta data from rockets and ground-based instruments will be entered into the SIOS database on Svalbard, in line with the intentions of the agreement signed by NASA, JAXA, UiO and SIOS in Tokyo in 2016. The original scientific data is meant to be stored at each individual institution.

One of the conclusions from a dedicted sounding rocket meeting during the LMPR workshop last week was to start looking the possibility for similar data sharing in the M/LT program too. Maybe we can continue to use the SIOS base also through the M/LT. This will be brought up with SIOS shortly.

GHOST student rocket:
The GCI M/LT student rocket project is still being developed by NASA and Andøya Space. What needs to be determined first is who will be the Principal Investigator (PI). If this rocket project will be conducted outside the RockSat-X (the GCI CUSP student rocket – G-CHASER (2017-2019), was run through this well established US student rocket program) we need to look into how the invitation/submission/selection processes are to be carried out.

Hopefully, the invitations can be issued later this autumn. These will go to members of the GCI M/LT consortium having contributed to the white paper, and to the members of the EASP agreement (Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Switzerland).

The intention is still to have the launch during the November 2024 NASA RENU-3 (PI Mark Lessard from Uni of New Hampshire) campaign. More about this in the weeks to come, so keep an eye on the GCI web.

Current status GCI M/LT projects:

  • SpEED Demon*, a tech demo mission for SEED (Barjatya/Embry-Riddle) (launch week 34 2022)
  • SEED* (Sporadic E Electrodynamics) (Barjatya/Embry-Riddle): −from Kwajalein Atoll ~2024 −PI Aroh Barjatya has more info at
  • XENON (Isotopic consentration of Xenon −Launched from Esrange in August 2021.
  • PMWE 3 & 4 (IAP, DLR Moraba) −Incl 2 Vipers after the main rockets (same day) −Launched from Andøya Space, Oct 1st 2021
  • VortEx* (Lehmacher) −March 2023, 4 rockets from Andøya Space
    • 2 rockets launched March 22nd 2023
    • 2 rockets to be launched October 2024
  • ICI-5b* (4DSpace/DAEDALUS) (Miloch/UiO/Norway) (winter 2024 from Andøya Space)
  • MaxiDusty-2* (Mann/UiT/Norway) (summer 2025 from Andøya Space)
  • ORIGIN* (Gumbel/MISU/Sweden) – launch spring 2025 from ESRANGE (same time as DEFINE)
  • DEFINE* (Strelnikov/IAP/Germany) – launch spring 2025 from Andøya Space (same time as ORIGIN)
    ALOMAR Observatory measurements during ORIGIN & DEFINE
  • Turb3D (Strelnikov/Lubken/IAP/Germany)
  • SYSTER (IRF, Sweden) & BROR* (2023) (Ivchencko/KTH/Sweden)
  • ROMARA (Stude/DLR/Germany)
  • ISAS/JAXA (Abe)
  • B-SoLiTARe* “Balloon Sodium Lidar to measure Tides in the Antarctic Region” (Janches, GSFC/NASA)
  • GHOST* (Grand Challenge Mesosphere Student Rocket) (TBD) (NASA/Andøya Space)
  • To be proposed (Conde & al/U Fairbanks/Alaska) – project in the works. More info to come.

*= funded or partly funded
striked through = launched

Andøya Space, Sept. 24., 2023
Kolbjørn Blix

GCI M/LT workshop during CEDAR 2022 (student rocket (GHOST) secured)

Dear friends and colleagues,

This is a reminder about the GCI M/LT workshop to be held during the upcoming CEDAR in Austin, TX.

The workshop will be held at the Line Hotel (CEDAR venue) between 6:30 and 8 PM, June 20th. Exact room number is yet not known, but will be advertised in due time.

I will try to organize Zoom or Teams access for those not able to be present. It all depends on the available infrastructure, and links will be posted in the room update email in such case.

Microsoft Teams-meeting (if infrastructure allows)

Join from a computer or mobile app

Click here to attend the meeting


GCI Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere (M/LT) aims to study the M/LT region with both new and well proven techniques using a multitude of platforms and instruments. Recent theoretical and modelling developments allow for study of dynamic processes on a large range of scales – including the potential impact of small scale processes on a global scale. The white paper can be downloaded from this link: For those of you who are new to the GCI CUSP and M/LT projects – necessary info is presented here

The 2022 CEDAR workshop in Austin, TX is coming closer by the day (19 – 24 June 2022), and I think it would be a good idea for us to have a meeting either Monday 20th during that week. As some of you might already know, NASA has agreed to sponsor our proposed student rocket – GHOST, like they did back in 2017 when they handed us the two-stage GCI CUPS student rocket – G-CHASER. G-CHASER was built and integrated through the US RockSat-X program with participation from Capital Tech University, University of Tokyo, Pennsylvania State University. University of Oslo, Arctic University of Norway – Tromsø, University of New Hampshire, University of Puerto Rico, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University. Over 100 students were part of the G-CHASER, and about 50 of them participated both at NASA Wallops Flight Facility for the 1st integration in Agust 2018, and in January 2019 at Andøya Space in Norway for the final integration and launch during the GCI CUSP CAPER-2 launch campaign. This gave them a fantastic experience and loads of new friends and contacts for future endeavors. The launch operations of the G-CHASER was sponsored by Andøya Space.

With GHOST we’re aiming for students from these countries:
USA, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, Poland and UK.

In other words, we are talking about students from the countries that are part of the M/LT project, plus those being a part of the ESA EASP project (ESRANGE Andøya Special Project).

One of the items we need to discuss during a possible workshop in June is how to advertise, select proposals and ensure the best possible use of the GHOST. We also need to look at the M/LT status and identify future campaigns that would benefit from being coordinated in time and location etc. We should also look into data sharing. In the CUSP project this is handled by the SIOS at Svalbard who’s hosting all the data (or metadata only) on their servers. This provides us with a solid server setup and a professional front end for collecting/using the data.

Diego Janches, GSFC NASA – B-SoLiTARe: “Balloon Sodium Lidar to measure Tides in the Antarctic Region” mission added to the white paper

B-SoLiTARe will be launched from McMurdo Base Antarctica during the austral summer and circumnavigate the South Pole in 7-10 days to measure, for the first time at all longitudes, tidal-like frequency (3-24 h) structures, averaged over a latitudinal band, at high southern latitudes using laser spectroscopy from a sub-orbital platform. Specifically B-SoLiTARe will address

SO1: What are the zonal (longitudinal) wavenumbers, amplitudes, and vertical structures of the diurnal (24 h-) and semidiurnal (12 h-) tides at polar latitudes, as well as the relatively unexplored 8- and 6- h tides?

SO2: Are the presence of Inertia Gravity Waves (IGWs) with periods between 3–10 has persistent and dominant throughout the summer antarctic S-MLT as recent lidar observations have shown them to be at McMurdo during winter? If so can they be distinguished from the 8, and 6 h tides based on the vertical and horizontal structure?

Full overview – check out the updated white paper below.

A. Jaynes, University of Iowa – “LAMP-2” mission added to GCI M/LT white paper

The LAMP-2 mission will be proposed to the NASA Sounding Rocket program solicitation in 2022. The mission concept is building on a currently-funded mission to be flown in February or March, 2022, LAMP: Loss through Auroral Microburst Pulsations. The aim of the LAMP mission is to investigate the connection between pulsating aurora and microburst electron precipitation from Earth’s ring current/radiation belts. This amounts to the high-energy tail of pulsating aurora, which can be relativistic in energy. The follow-on mission, LAMP-2, will further explore the high-energy portion of pulsating aurora, but include more observations of the effects of this precipitation on the atmospheric chemistry of the stratosphere, mesosphere, and lower thermosphere. The mission will be supported by ground-based radar, mm-wave spectroscopy to measure ozone content, and atmospheric modeling based on inputs from the precipitating electron spectrum measured in situ. The connection between space-based precipitation and the chemistry of the MLT region is highly relevant to the goals of the GCI M/LT. The Principal Investigator is Allison Jaynes from the University of Iowa, with Co-Is from University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College, Goddard Space Flight Center, Clemson University, JAXA, and several Japanese research institutions. 

Checkout the latest version (2.2) of the GCI M/LT white paper. You are free to use it as a basis for applications, publications etc.

The last GCI CUSP rocket – CREX-2 successfully launched, Dec. 1st 2021

The CREX-2 sounding rocket mission was successfully launched from Andøya Space December 1st, 2021.

NASA’s Cusp Region Experiment-2, also known as CREX-2, is the final research rocket to launch in the international project Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp.

– The project consisted of 12 rockets from three nations, says Kolbjørn Blix, Director of Sounding rockets at Andøya Space. – USA, Norway, and Japan. The Japanese mission successfully launched about a month ago from our launch facilities at Svalbard.

All 12 rockets launched.

The main objective of the project is to investigate the polar cusp region, a region formed by Earth’s magnetic field.

– The magnetic field forms a kind of a funnel stretching from our atmosphere down towards Earth’s core, and inside this funnel the air is noticeable denser than elsewhere, says Kolbjørn. – This affects polar orbiting satellites, as they hit a kind of speed bump when they pass through this area.

The participants in the Grand Challenge-project share all their research data with each other, making it possible to achieve greater insight into this highly interesting cusp region.

CREX-2 is led by Professor Mark Conde from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the vehicle was built at NASA Wallops.

– The rocket carried 20 canisters of vapor tracers which was released into the atmosphere, says Kolbjørn. – Each of these canisters created a small cloud which was then observed by two ground stations at Svalbard and by an airplane flying out from Iceland.

– The movement of these tiny clouds observed from multiple angles will help scientists understand more about the physics in the cusp area, says Kolbjørn.

The sounding rocket was launched from Andøya on December 1st, at 0925 UTC, and reached an apogee at about 634 kilometers.

– The flight was nominal, and they launched into perfect scientific conditions, says Kolbjørn. – The scientists are very, very happy today.

JAXA GCI CUSP sounding rocket SS-520-3 launched from Svalbard

The Japanese research rocket SS-520-3 was launched from Ny-Ålesund November 4th, 2021, to investigate the cusp region as a part of the Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp.

The cusp region is a funnel created by Earth’s magnetic field, and the region is the focus of a project spanning several research teams with twelve sounding rockets. The Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp is designed to advance the common understanding of the space physics in the cusp region.

The Japanese rocket’s specific purpose was to investigate the microscopic mechanism of the ion acceleration/heating in the cusp region by carrying out high time resolution in-situ measurements of the plasma particles and plasma waves.

The two-stage sounding rocket had a nominal, suborbital flight and was able to successfully make in-situ measurements of the cusp region. Telemetry antennas at Ny-Ålesund, Longyearbyen and Andøya participated in the mission.

The rocket reached an apogee of about 750 km.

Principal investigator for this mission was Professor Yoshifumi Saito from JAXA.

More information

Please contact Kjell Bøen, Vice President, Science & Technology, Andøya Space.

Read more about the Grand Challenge Initiative here:

First GCI M/LT project successfully launched – XENON French balloon from ESRANGE

From Peter Dalin, at Institutet för rymdfysik (IRF) we have just been notified that they have successfully launched XENON French balloon (Europian balloon infrastructure project HEMERA and CNES balloon campaign KLIMAT 2021) to 32.6 km altitude on the night 16-17 August 2021.
Two images of NLC as seen from the stratosphere from 32.6 km altitude are shown below.

NLC as seen from the stratosphere from 32.6 km altitude
NLC as seen from the stratosphere from 32.6 km altitude

The preliminary results are as follows:

  1. All three NLC cameras and electronics were completely operational in the stratosphere for more than 10 hours at temperatures minus 30-32 degrees.
  2. Two wide angle cameras registered NLC in the twilight sky sector from north-west to north-east. NLC were of a moderate brightness and were located at high latitudes to the north of Esrange.
  3. The NLC instrument has survived and has no damages after the landing of the gondola.

From the ground support side:

  1. NLC camera located at IRF (Kiruna) has registered the same NLC as seen from the balloon.
  2. EISCAT (Tromsö) and MAARSY (Andoya) radars have registered PMSE in about the same mesopause volume with NLC seen from the balloon.
  3. Lidar at Esrange was successfully operational during the whole night but registered no NLC above Esrange.

To summarize, it was a very successful balloon-borne experiment!

The next balloon launch with the NLC instrument is planned in August 2022.

GCI M/LT CEDAR workshop summary

Workshop Summary

Meeting started 1800 CET and lasted until 20:10 CET. We had roughly 80 participants and 14 talks from 7 of the 9 participating countries. An initial technical issue with Zoom caused a 10 minute delay and new Zoom-links to be distributed, but overall it went as planned.

As we hoped, we received updates on already planned (and some funded) projects, new initiatives and requests/offers for cooperation. Based on this, as well as our experiences during the run-up to the GCI CUSP, we found that it was time to start planning a physical meeting as the next step in the process around GCI M/LT. This will therefore be sought to be resolved through a dedicated session during this year’s AGU Fall Meeting. A session proposal for AGU FM was submitted within the deadline.

The session was not recorded, but talks will be made available shortly through the GCI website:

2021 CEDAR Workshop – Important Information

Dear friends and colleagues.

A few weeks ago we sent out a reminder for the upcoming GCI M/LT CEDAR workshop, June 22, 2021, 1000-1200 MST (1800-2000 CET). Back then we informed you that we’d send out a Zoom-link in due time before the workshop, but things have changed the recent days. The access to our workshop, a part of CEDAR 2021, will be handled by CEDAR. This due to the fact that all participants have to agree to the code of conduct which is a requirement by the CEDAR sponsor.

So we encourage you to take 5 min to register, and all the information will be sent to you by CEDAR. Everybody can register without any registration fee at

Info from the CEDAR organizers:

Dear CEDAR community:

The CEDAR workshop is coming up from 20-25 June, 2021.

Please register for the CEDAR workshop by going to the workshop website. There is no registration fee. 

The agenda is available on the workshop website

To contribute to the individual workshops please contact the workshop conveners.

Please check out the list of individual workshops or look at the agenda. 

CEDAR posters will be available for viewing closer to the event, and open for discussion in three poster sessions (Tuesday-Thursday)

Please consider signing up for student poster judging by sending an email to maute at This is a great opportunity to interact with the students and provide feedback. 

We are looking forward to your participation in the CEDAR workshop.

If you have questions please contact us (maute at

The Organizers

Agenda – June 22nd, 2021 GCI M/LT CEDAR workshop

Updated June 21st

1800 CET = 1000 AM MDT

1800-1805: Kolbjørn Blix (Andøya Space, Norway)| Agenda Information
1805-1810: CHAIR: Doug Rowland (NASA Goddard, USA) | Updated GCI CUSP status, M/LT plans
1810-1815: Gerald Lehmacher (Clemson Uni., USA) | VortEx, Andøya, February 2023 – update for new launch window
1815-1823: Boris Strelnikov (Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Germany) | Sounding rocket project PMWE
1823-1831: Jörg Gumbel (Stockholm University, Sweden) | Swedish Airglow Studies Related to GCI M/LT
1831-1839: Diego Janches (NASA/GSFC, USA) | Update: Balloon Sodium Lidar to measure Tides in the Antarctic Region (B-SoLiTARe)
1839-1847: Andres Spicher (U of Tromsø, Norway) | Activity and future plans for studies of dust in the mesosphere at Dep. Physics and Technology, UIT
1847-1855: Kathrin Schoppmann (DLR MORABA, Germany) | MORABA sounding rocket sensor platform for atmospheric research
1855-1903: Gerd Baumgarten (Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Germany) | Fingerprints of turbulence in noctilucent clouds
1903-1911: William Ward (University of New Brunswick, Canada) | Waves and airglow: Coupling across the MLT
1911-1919: Nickolay Ivchenko (KTH, Sweden) | Update on the SYSTER sounding rocket project
1919-1927: Tomasz Noga (Lukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Aviation) | Polish contribution to GCI-M/LT
1927-1935: Martina Faenza (Nammo Raufoss AS, Norway) | Prelim. title: Nucleus, Norwegian sounding rocket for mesosphere research
1935-1943: Hein Olthof (T-Minus Engineering B.V., Holland) | Update on T-Minus DART rocket and successor: DART-XL
1945-2000: Discussions/Conlusions
2000 (ish): Finish

Proposed GCI M/LT session at hybrid AGU Fall Meeting, New Orleans, Dec. 2021

Due to the recent announcement by the AGU Fall Meeting organizers that this years conference will be a hybrid event with both physical and virtual attendance, and many of us will be vaccinated before the summer, we have decided to propose such a hybrid GCI M/LT session. We hope that many of you will have the opportunity to meet physically, and that in this way we can give our common project a necessary injection of energy and increase progress. As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has made it much more difficult to organize the sequel to the successful GCI CUSP project, since meeting physically several times a year (normally CEDAR and AGU FM) contributes to a sense of unity and common goals that one does not achieve as well through online meetings.

The session proposal is already made, and can be downloaded here:

We will get back with updated info as soon as an approval is given for our session by the AGU organizers. The proposal deadline is April 14th 2021, so hopefully i will come soon.

-Kolbjørn Blix

Proposed GCI M/LT session at CEDAR 2021

Dear friends and colleagues.

Months are passing by as we continue to meet mostly through keyboards and video cameras. This is not exactly an ideal situation for creating new projects, but we have to deal with the cards we have on hand. In an attempt at just that, we have requested a new GCI M / LT session during this summer’s CEDAR conference, which will also be held electronically this year as well as 2020. The session we arranged during last year’s conference was very successful with around 100 participants via Zoom . At that time, more than 30 lectures were given on possible projects as part of GCI M / LT from 2022, and around 10 of these were rocket projects. In the meantime, COVID-19 has done its part to ensure that 2022 has slipped backwards and become 2023, and two of these rocket projects that were fully or partially funded have thus been postponed for one year.

However, we want to use this extra time we have been “allocated” to help even more people hear about the project, and not least get an opportunity to tell us others about what exciting opportunities they see in a possible participation. We will also use the CEDAR session to update ourselves on the status of the projects presented last year. If we are really lucky, the meeting can also be used to agree on a physical meeting in 2022. Who knows…

You will find more info on the requested session, June 22nd, here:

We will inform you if and when the session is approved by the CEDAR organizers, and start challenging you for talks in due time.

Status – proposed GCI M/LT projects

Current status for proposed/funded GCI M/LT science projects planned for 2022 and later:

SEED (Sporadic E Electrodynamics) (Barjatya/Embry-Riddle):
SEED is funded by NASA. Its launch has been postponed to Summer 2022. It continues to be manifested for a launch from Kwajalein Atoll.
PI Aroh Barjatya has more info at

SONC balloon-borne experiment (Stratospheric Observations of Noctilucent Clouds) (ESRANGE, Sweden): Postponed due to Covid until August 2021. Second flight from Esrange in August 2022.

VortEX (Lehmacher/Clemson/USA):
Postponed until September 2022 or February 2023. NASA SRPO hasn’t made a final decision yet, but it will be either.

4DSpace/DAEDALUS (Miloch/UiO/Norway)
Turb3D (Strelnikov/Lubken/IAP/Germany)
MaxiDusty-2 (Mann/UiT/Norway)
ORIGIN (Gumbel/MISU/Sweden)
SYSTER & BROR (Ivchencko/KTH/Sweden)
ROMARA (Stude/DLR/Germany)

GHOST (Grand Challenge Mesosphere Student Rocket) (Blix & Koehler/Andøya Space/COSGC):
Formal part of the GHOST proposal will start late 2020/early 2021 towards NASA.

Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere online CEDAR 2020 workshop completed successfully

As a part of the “CEDAR Virtual Meeting 2020” the GCI M/LT workshop started 1700 CET and lasted until 20:10 CET. The Zoom counter showed steadily 100 participants, which was max allowed for our session in Zoom. We apologize to those who were denied access to the meeting due to the maximum limit of 100 participants for which the session was set up.

We had 24 planned talks, 1 was cancelled but will be posted online. A couple had technical issues, but overall it went as planned.

Lot’s of new ideas for science projects and cross country/Atlantic cooperations in M/LT research from 2022 as part of GCI. At this point of time 10 sounding rocket Projects are either funded, proposed or will be proposed for participation in GCI M/LT:

SEED (Sporadic E Electrodynamics) (Barjatya/Embry-Riddle)
VortEX (Lehmacher/Clemson/USA)
4DSpace/DAEDALUS (Miloch/UiO/Norway)
Turb3D (Strelnikov/Lubken/IAP/Germany)
MaxiDusty-2 (Mann/UiT/Norway)
ORIGIN (Gumbel/MISU/Sweden)
SYSTER & BROR (Ivchencko/KTH/Sweden)
ROMARA (Stude/DLR/Germany)
GHOST (Grand Challenge Mesosphere Student Rocket) (Blix & Koehler/ASC/COSGC)

The list of planned ground based and ballon science projects/campaigns will be updated shortly.

At the end of the meeting, a GCI M / LT coordination group was set up consisting of representatives from all 9 GCI M/LT countries, plus dedicated coordinators for the program itself and for student rocket(s). This group becomes an important part of the job of operationalizing the project’s white paper and the good ideas presented thorugh the talks in this session.

To increase the chances for success , the GCI M/LT should start planning for a broad participation at the 25th ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programmes and related Research which will take place on 6-10 June 2021 in Biarritz, France. This biannually scientific gathering is all about activities at Andøya Space Center (Norway) and ESRANGE Space Center (Sweden).

The session was recorded, and these recordings and some selected talks (those who had technical difficulties) will be made available shortly.

GCI M/LT Coordination Group:
Chair: Douglas Rowland (NASA Goddard, USA)
Program Coordinator: Kolbjørn Blix (ASC, Norway)
Student Rocket Coordinator: Chris Koehler (U of Colorado/COSGC)
Gerald Lehmacher (Clemson, USA)
Takumi Abe (ISAS/JAXA, Japan)
Wojciech Miloch (UiO, Norway)
Ingrid Mann (UiT, Norway)
William Ward, (New Brunswick, Canada)
Boris Strelnikov (IAP, Germany)
Jörg Gumbel (Stockholm University, Sweden)
John Plane (University of Leeds, UK)
Tomasz Noga (Lukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Aviation, Poland)
Oleg Ugolnikov (Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences)

Download links:
Recording of the complete session:

Part 1 of the GCI M/LT online workshop in June 2020
Part 2 of the GCI M/LT online workshop in June 2020
Part 3 of the GCI M/LT online workshop in June 2020

Talks experiencing technical issues: (to come soon)
David Miles (University of Iowa) | Sounding Rocket Magnetometer Option

Oliver Drescher (DLR MORABA, Germany) | HAS – Development of a thrust controllable research platform to hover in the middle atmosphere

Vladimir Yushkov (Central Aerological Observatory, Russia) | Sounding Rocket in Russia

Joan Stude (German Aerospace Center / DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics) | Future plans on deploying our rocket mass spectrometer ROMARA

Complete list of talks:
1700-1705: Kolbjørn Blix (ASC, Norway)| Agenda Information

1705-1710: CHAIR: Doug Rowland (NASA Goddard, USA) | GCI intro – CUSP status, M/LT plans

1710-1715: Gerald Lehmacher (Clemson Uni., USA) | The Vorticity Experiment (VortEx) 2022: an update

1715-1720: Wojciech Miloch (U of Oslo, Norway) | Lower ionosphere – thermosphere and space weather activities at the University of Oslo, Norway

1720-1725: Boris Strelnikov (IAP, Germany) | Scientific questions for sounding rockets (by B. Strelnikov and F.-J. Lübken)

1725-1730: Henriette Trollvik (U of Tromsø, Norway) | Mesospheric Dust Studies Using Rocket Observations

1730-1735: Jörg Gumbel (Stockholm University, Sweden) | ORIGIN – a proposed rocket campaign connecting O, O2 and OH in the Earth\’s nightglow

1735-1740: William Ward (University of New Brunswick, Canada) | Untangling dynamics and transport in the mesopause region

1740-1745: Nickolay Ivchenko (KTH, Sweden) | \”SYSTER\” rocket project as part of ESA Daedalus Phase A campaign

1745-1750: David Miles (University of Iowa) | Sounding Rocket Magnetometer Options (Pre-recorded)

1750-1755: Yun-Hang Cho (University of Sheffield, UK) | Overview of the Sheffield Space Initiative and Opportunities with GCI M/LT

1755-1800: Richard Collins (University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA) | Wave Activity Forcing of E-Region (WAFER) Richard Collins for the WAFER team

1800-1805: Oliver Drescher (DLR MORABA, Germany) | HAS – Development of a thrust controllable research platform to hover in the middle atmosphere (Pre-recorded)

1805-1810: Vladimir Yushkov (Central Aerological Observatory, Russia) | Sounding Rocket in Russia (Pre-recorded)

1810-1815: Peter Dalin (Swedish Institute of Space Physics) | Stratospheric Observations of Noctilucent Clouds – SONC experiment

1815-1820: Joan Stude (German Aerospace Center / DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics) | Future plans on deploying our rocket mass spectrometer ROMARA

1820-1825: Diego Janches (NASA/GSFC, USA) | Balloon Sodium Lidar to measure Tides in the Antarctic Region (B-SoLiTARe)

1825-1830: Xiaoyan Zhou (University California, Los Angeles, USA) | The BALBOA Project: BALloon-Based Observations for Sunlit Aurora

1830-1835: Oleg Ugolnikov (Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences) | Noctilucent Clouds Size Estimation from All-Sky Monitoring: Color and Polarization Approaches (Pre-recorded)

1835-1840: John Plane (University of Leeds, UK) | Questions in mesospheric chemistry

1840-1845: Mattias Abrahamsson (SSC, Science Services Division, Sweden) | Esrange Space Center – a launch and measurement site for GCI M/LT

1845-1850: Liz MacDonald (NASA GSFC, USA) | Citizen Science and the Grand Challenges

1850-1855: Tomasz Noga (Lukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Aviation) | Polish Contribution to GCI M/LT

1855-1900: Hein Olthof (T-Minus Engineering B.V., Holland) | Use of micro sounding rockets for supporting 4D atmospheric measurements

1900-1905: Martina Faenza (Nammo Raufoss AS, Norway) | Nucleus, Norwegian sounding rocket for mesosphere research

June 23rd online workshop – talk upload and connection info

The GCI M/LT online workshop is getting nearer by the day, and it’s time for you all to upload your talks to the CEDAR wiki page for our event.

Why is this necessary, you might wonder? Well, it’s caused by the fact that our workshop is a part of the CEDAR Virtual Meeting, June 22-26 2020 ( The workshop was originally planned, and accepted as a part of the “physical” CEDAR 2020 in Santa Fe, and we’d like to keep that connection.

What you all need to do June 19th THE LATEST! :

  1. Name your talk like this: Firstname_Lastname.pptx or Firstname_Lastname.pdf
  2. Point your browsers here
  3. Locate your own name in the list of talks
  4. Click it, and upload your short (~5 min) talk
  5. Note Zoom link and time to connect

So, no need to email us the presentation. Use the procedure above.

The list of talks might change if some “late bloomers” should arise  😊

Current program:

Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

2020 Workshop:Grand Challenge Initiative MLT – CEDAR 2020

The upcoming GCI M/LT online workshop is a part of CEDAR 2020. You will find more info about this on the CEDAR 2020 web.

It might be necessary for all GCI M/LT workshop participants to register With the CEDAR 2020 in addition to the system we provided through the GCI web. However, we will come back With more info on this shortly.

Sign up for the Grand Challenge Initiative M/LT online workshop, June 23rd – 1700-1930 CET

Dear friends and colleagues.

Since CEDAR was canceled this year, it is important that we take steps to maintain the progress of GCI M/LT. One way to do this is to host an online workshop that ensures that we can handle much of what is lost by not being able to physically meet Santa Fe as planned. We therefore propose a Zoom-based replacement where each participant gives an online lecture, either directly (max 5 minutes) or in the form of a pre-recorded talk (could be more than 5 minutes). 5 minutes is a short time, but from experience we know that this is enough to present thoughts and ideas about planned or proposed projects that you want to implement in GCI M/LT based on white paper that was sent to you all in March 2020

According to the GCI M/LT white paper the project is planned to start in 2022 with the VortEx campaign. This gives us a perfect opportunity to plan complementary and new campaigns during and after VortEx. The white paper has entries from 9 nations on possible science topics, technologies, platforms, ground based observatories and potential research partners.

The Zoom session will take place June 23, 2020, 1500-1730 UT (1700-1930 CET) and will be chaired as a “regular” session.

To ensure the best possible scientific outcome and value for the funding institutions, we should use this workshop to do short (5 min) presentations (either live or pre-recorded) on proposed/planned experiments/campaigns and allow discussions/comments. In the end of the session the organizers will propose the formation of a GCI M/LT PI-coordination group, as well as time/place/type of follow-up meeting.

Please sign up for the workshop with your name, email, suggested title of your talk (due to the 2,5 hrs time slot we will have to limit the amount of talks) and whether you will prefer pre-recorded or not. Deadline for signing up will be June 12th 2020.

The Zoom-link will be sent out by email as we approach June 23rd. It will also be posted on the GCI web.

Latest info @

GCI M/LT white paper ready for use

The final version of the GCI M/LT white paper is ready for use. All 9 countries shown on the logo has now contributed to the content with research topics, supportive instrumentation and experiments they’ve planned to conduct as part of this grand challenge project. Now it’s all up to you. Please feel free to use the white paper as valuable background information for your funding applications in the month to come, and let’s know how it turns out in the end.

As we informed in March, there will be no CEDAR GCI M/LT workshop. However, we’ll start planning a miniaturized online version of what we where planning for the cancelled CEDAR workshop. So, what we should do before the summer:

  • Those of you who were thinking about giving a short talk during the cancelled CEDAR WS, should send us a title that can be entered into an online session.
  • It’s vital for the success of GCI M/LT that we form a group of PI’s coordinating the GCI M/LT science efforts in the months to come. Important issues here are:
    • Out of all the ideas and science topics in the white paper – what should we concentrate on trying to implement?
    • Who should do what with who, with what, from where and when? This is paramount for the planning that will be needed to be carried out by instrument makers, rocket planners/builders etc.

So, despite COVID-19 we can make this work. When it comes to physical meetings, we are aiming for a GCI M/LT session at AGU Fall Meeting 2020, 7-11 December ( If this will happen or not, who knows, but we need plans for the future.

GCI M/LT white paper is complete

Today the GCI M/LT white paper was finalized after receiving the latest post from the countries that have indicated their interest in participating in the project. It will be distributed through the email list shortly.

Kolbjørn Blix
GCI M/LT Coordinator

GCI M/LT workshop at CEDAR 2020 cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak

Based on this email from Astrid Maute in the CEDAR 2020 planning committee, we have to inform you that also this planned GCI M/LT meeting is cancelled too:

“Dear workshop proposers,I would like to inform you that the 2020 CEDAR workshop is cancelleddue to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alternative virtual options will be exploredfor a modified CEDAR meeting.
Please stay safe and healthy,Astrid on behalf of the CSSC

Astrid Maute”

Due to the current situation world wide, the GCI ML/T core group will start working on the possibility of having zoom/Teams talks/meetings laster this spring to ensure that we can continue to develop the GCI M/LT project, despite the COVID-19 setback. Information about this will be issued in due time. Good ideas are mostly welcome.

GCI M/LT status meeting at EGU cancelled

The EGU is officially announcing the cancellation of the physical EGU General Assembly 2020 in Vienna, Austria, and so the GCI M/LT status Meeting during EGU 2020 in Vienna, Austria – SMI32 is cancelled too.

Next chance to meet is:

GCI M/LT workshop during CEDAR 2020
Will take place June 23rd, 1:30 to 3:30 PM at Eldorado Hotel and Spa.

Agenda TBD, but potential M/LT participants are requested to give a short presentation (5 mins) about campaign plans (Rockets, satellites, Balloons, ground based etc). Focus on the importance of data sharing through the SIOS database will be one topic.

GCI M/LT status meeting @ EGU 2020 – room and time fixed

Updated Jan 30th
UPCOMING: GCI M/LT status Meeting during EGU 2020 in Vienna, Austria – SMI32
To reduce the need for travels for our European colleagues, we plan to arrange a GCI M/LT status meeting May 5th to allow us to update each other on the current status of the project development, plans and possible GCI M/LT related projects in Europe. Agenda TBD, but potential M/LT participants are requested to give a short presentation about their plans for participation (5-10 mins).

Room: 0.51 (28 person capacity) at the EGU conference centre.
Meeting type: by invitation only

Changed time slot for GCI M/LT workshop at CEDAR

UPCOMING: GCI M/LT workshop during CEDAR 2020
Will take place June 23rd, 1:30 to 3:30 PM at Eldorado Hotel and Spa. The change form 5 to 7 PM is to avoid too much overlap with the poster session which runs from 4 – 7PM.

Agenda TBD, but potential M/LT participants are requested to give a short presentation (5 mins). Focus on the importance of data sharing through the SIOS database will be one topic.

The first GCI M/LT sounding Rockets – G. Lemacher, Clemson Univ. – “VortEx”

NASA has approved the sounding rocket experiment “VortEx” to be launched from Andoya Space Center in January/February 2022. The project is currently in the design phase. On two launch nights we plan to launch two rocket each, with instrumented and chemical release payloads, to study gravity wave breaking and mesoscale dynamics below and above the mesopause. Key region is 80 to 140 km. It is supported by ground-based airglow and temperature imaging, lidars and meteor radars. The novel techniques such as chemical release ejectable ampules, and multiple radar transmitters and receivers have the common goal to perform horizontally distributed observations of winds. This experiment is highly relevant for the Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (GC/MLT), since it addresses important science questions collected in the Grand Challenge white paper. It may be seen as initial start of the GCI/MLT and to field-test new rocket and ground based techniques that may find wider application in the following years. Principal Investigator is Gerald Lehmacher with Co-PIs from Clemson University, Embry-Riddle University, Utah State University and Institute for Atmospheric Physics. More information can be found in Lehmacher et al., Proc. 24th. Symp. Europ. Rocket and Balloon Progr., ESA SP-742, October 2019.

GCI M/LT way forward

  • 2020:
    • Jan: White paper finished
    • Week 8: Science workshop – Japan (TBD)
    • May: M/LT workshop – EGU in Vienna
      • Science topics and time lines (funding, campaigns) presented by each party
    • UPDATED 17.12 2019:
      June: M/LT workshop – CEDAR 2019
      • Info from European meeting
      • Science topics and time lines (funding, campaigns) presented by each party
      • Tentative scenarios discussions
      • GHOST (student rocket)
        • Funding, Consept (RockSat X?), Launch site & time
    • Tag-up during AGU Fall Meeting
  • 2021:
    • April: GCI M/LT tag-up during EGU
      • European (and US if present) funding status?
      • Time line updates
    • June: International GCI M/LT workshop during CEDAR 2021
      • Status:
        • Missions, Funding, Time lines
        • GHOST (student rocket)
        • Scenarios
    • Autumn: Operations workshop(s)
      • DLR Moraba/NASA Goddard SFC/ASC?
  • 2021-2023:
    • Payload and instruments prep
  • 2022-2026:
    • Launch & measurements campaigns

GCI CUSP & M/LT tag-up during AGU Fall Meeting

The GCI Cusp and M/LT core work group have scheduled a tag-up during AGU Fall Meeting.

Time and place: Moscone Posterhall south, Tuesday 10th from 2PM to 3 PM. Room number to be posted later.

GCI Cusp and M/LT talk at AGU Fall Meeting

GCI M/LT illustration by Trond Abrahamsen, Andøya Space Center

Kolbjørn Blix, Director of Space Systems at Andøya Space Center, and program coordinator of Grand Challenge Initiative CUSP and M/LT are presenting both projects (CUSP project status + M/LT plans):

Abstract ID: 486187
Abstract Title: Grand Challenge Initiative – CUSP and M/LT Projects
Final Paper Number: SM34A-01
Presentation Type: Oral
Session Date and Time: Wednesday, 11 December 2019; 16:00 – 18:00
Presentation Length: 16:00 – 16:15
Session Number and Title: SM34A: Earth’s Dynamic Cusps I
Location: Moscone South; 207, L2