Geophysical Institute studies Earth, skies

By  | 

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Public information officer, Sue Mitchell, says she often deals with misconceived theories about the Geophysical Institute and what it actually does.

Sue Mitchell; Public Information Manager >> "Well, we get a lot of phone calls about the aurora, 'When do you turn them on?' and we get 'We're going on a cruise to Southeast Alaska in June, can we see the aurora?' - those kind of questions. We have the High-Frequency Active Aurora Research Program, and there's a lot of conspiracy theories out there about what it can do, ranging from controlling people's minds to controlling the weather, those kinds of things."

It can't cause hurricanes or earth quakes, but it can study the atmosphere with radio waves. They also collect data by using those large satellite dishes you might have seen on campus.

Bill Hauer; User Support Office of Alaska Satellite Facility >> "We have a whole network of satellites in orbit that are facing the earth and taking a whole series of measurements. And those data then are processed and made available to scientists around the world for analysis."

The institute publishes their research online. You can view the aurora forecast, earthquake information and volcanic activity in Alaska.

Nettie Labelle-Hamer; Deputy Director >> "We work with NASA every day. NASA is very, very pleased with the work that's being done here and they're going to be expanding some of that work."

January 15th, they're opening a launch window to send four research rockets across the sky like a bow and arrow.

Sue Mitchell >> "You would be able to see them from Fairbanks if you knew wehere to look, and Poker Flat is about 30 miles out of Fairbanks on the Steese Highway."

They offer summer tours at the Poker Flat Rocket Research Range and daily self-guided tours at UAF.

I'm Katie Luper, reporting.