National Geographic : 1957 Apr
.. ... 570 Robert F. Sisson Physicists Scan a Message from Space. A Flying Rocket Beamed This Graph Telemetering, a method of radioing coded information, transmitted data from the ionosphere to the Colonial via circuits in the rocket's head. Variations in signal amplitudes-telemetering's language-show up as wiggles on this roll of photographic paper. Two of the wavering lines shed new light on behavior of X rays and Lyman alpha rays during a solar flare. Rocket head at right carries delicate electronic gear. in part, why the United States Department of Defense at the invitation of our good Ca nadian neighbors built a multimillion-dollar rocket-launching site at Fort Churchill, Mani toba, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. Dedicated in October, 1956, the unique aluminum-covered structure suggests a 120 foot oilcan (page 575). During the IGY this tower will belch 34 Aerobee rockets into the sky to measure the earth's and the ionosphere's magnetic fields; to record the temperature, pressure, and density of the high atmosphere; and to chart the speeds and directions of winds that churn the air 50 to 150 miles above the sub arctic tundra. Some rockets will whiz through northern lights, making measurements that may ex plain this eerie phenomenon.* To see the firing of the site's first trial rockets, I flew from Washington's balmy Oc tober Indian summer to zero temperatures at Fort Churchill. Below, forests slowly thinned until only scrubby spruce trees bristled from the barren landscape. I changed from business suit to GI arctic clothing and jeeped 11/2 miles from airfield to launching site to witness the launching of Fort Churchill's first Aerobee rocket. There I met Nelson W. Spencer of the University of Michigan, directing the project for the Air Force's Geophysics Research Directorate. Days of checking the rocket's instruments had passed; the 26-foot missile stood on its tail in the launching tower ready to go. The rocket was scheduled to go off about midnight, not because of particular interest in night air data but because radio interfer ence from missile ranges in the Bahama Is lands and in New Mexico dogged the Fort * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Unlocking Secrets of the Northern Lights," by Carl W. Gartlein, November, 1947; and "Mystery of Auroras," May, 1939.