The rocket arcing up into the northern lights above Alaska was on its way to measure the effects of the celestial phenomenon's effects on global positioning systems.
It was a mission launched Saturday by a NASA funded group of 60 researchers studying electrical activity in the aurora borealis and the likelihood it's interfering with GPS and other signals.
Cornell University says the 46-foot rocket lifted off from the University of Alaska's Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks and sent back data as it flew through the aurora at an altitude of 217 miles.
Cornell is leading the research. In addition to Cornell and Alaska, the other institutions involved are Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, the Southwest Research Institute in Texas, and Oslo University.