Tuesday, Nov. 12th, 2019

MSU Culinary Services to host Nov. 13 indigenous dinner in dining halls

In a celebration of indigenous people and local foods, MSU Culinary Services will host its second annual Indigenous Dinner on Nov. 13 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in Miller Dining Commons and Rendezvous Dining Pavilion. Both campus dining halls will be open to the public. 

Aside from fruits and greens, the dinner will feature food that is locally sourced and tribally sourced when possible. KayAnn Miller, executive sous chef for Miller Dining Commons, said that the dinner has two missions: to educate patrons about foods they may not have realized are indigenous to this country and to help people understand what it was like to eat prior to the colonization of the Americas.

During the early reservation period, “if you (went) to the reservation, you didn’t get to eat these (indigenous) foods anymore. You were given flour and lard and sugar,” Miller said. “I see this as a reclaiming of these foods, reclaiming the land and understanding the idea that there were people here before and they had a rocking food scene.” 

At each food station in the dining halls, chefs were given the chance to choose ingredients to create unique dishes that highlight the versatility of native ingredients. For instance, at the stir fry bar in Miller, there will be an indigenous pho bar featuring juniper-braised bison, bison bone broth and toppers of corn shoots, watercress, mint and jalapenos. Other dishes to be featured include smoked venison sausages, Gitksan grilled salmon steaks, spicy Aztec hot chocolate, Choctaw alligator andouille and filé sausage jalapeno pizza, and southwest elk ravioli in Hatch green chile dough.  

Miller said chefs were given creative freedom for these dinners because it is fun for them to work with ingredients they may have never seen before and curiosity leads to creativity in the kitchen. 

“It can be challenging as a chef because you’re so used to having all these ingredients available to you and then you take away 70% of what you use daily, but it’s a really fun thing to experiment with, and these dinners broaden your horizons as well,” said Sam Garber, a chef in Miller Dining Commons who will prepare meals at the stir fry station. 

The presence of indigenous foods has been growing on MSU’s campus the past year. The first indigenous dinner was held in the fall 2018 semester, the brainchild of executive chef Jill Flores. And Miller worked to incorporate indigenous foods into the menu of the campus food truck, Fork in the Road, by cooking up a tour of the Americas featuring indigenous foods from the Arctic Circle to the tip of South America. 

That same year, Sean Sherman, the “Sioux Chef,” who is recognized internationally for raising awareness of indigenous food systems in a modern context, came to MSU and worked with the Culinary Services team. He emphasized that it is not hard to feature indigenous foods and that they are available to anyone who takes the time to forage or seek out native vendors.

“For Culinary Services, it really gave momentum to the idea that we could feature these foods and we could bring some economic development emphasis because we are such a large purchaser,” Miller said. “It’s helping roll these foods out not only here on campus, but out to a larger audience.”

Another group has also benefitted from wider availability of indigenous foods on campus: Creative Nations, a group for indigenous students in the College of Arts and Architecture, said JoDee Palin, assistant dean of the college.

“It started a conversation among us,” Palin said. “We would talk about decolonizing spaces that have been colonized, and this is the biggest one we could do. Because it’s our bodies and we can take back control of our bodies with good food.” 

With the help of longtime MSU supporter Sherry Keller Brown, Creative Nations has worked with Culinary Services to include indigenous foods into the group’s regular lunch gatherings. The hope among Palin, Miller and Brown is that the dishes help the students learn more about and have a piece of their culture.

“I have such a passion to help people help themselves,” Brown said. “I want them to be proud of who they are and where they come from.”

This is the first semester that Culinary Services has made indigenous foods available for the Creative Nations lunches. Miller said that next semester the homestyle section of Miller will permanently feature indigenous foods every Thursday the Creative Nations students meet, and it will be there for all students and guests to experience. 

“It’s just amazing (that) we are having this dinner,” Palin said of the Nov. 13 dinner. “I think about the time KayAnn put into finding these recipes, doing the research on what things are indigenous. It overwhelms me that we’ll all be able to sit down together and eat all this together in the dining hall.” 

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Friday, Nov. 8th, 2019

2019 Christmas Stroll Gingerbread Contest, Application DEADLINE Nov. 29

The Christmas Stroll Gingerbread Contest is an AMAZING Stroll Tradition and it keeps growing every year! There is NO CHARGE to enter and lots of wonderful prizes to win! All entries are on display at 424 East Main and Hosted by Sweet Pea Festival and First Security Bank. 

The Christmas Stroll Gingerbread Contest has been a community tradition for over 20 years!  We invite YOU to participate in this fun activity! The details instructions are listed below:

First, please review our Contest Rules and Complete our Online Application HERE.
ALL Gingerbread House registrations are due on Friday, November 29 and then entries and must be delivered on Thursday, December 5 between 2pm and 6pm to Sweet Pea Festival volunteers at the Jacob’s Crossing Lobby (424 E Main St).

No purchase necessary to win!  Winners will be notified by the phone number or email address provided on the registration form.  Three winners will be chosen from each of the 5 divisions (Children: 6 and under, Children: 7-12, Teens: 13-17, Adults: 18 and over, & Professional) and ONE “People’s Choice” Award chosen by Stroll attendees.*  Winners will receive a ribbon for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place as well as a prize package including; Downtown Dollars, Sweet Pea Festival Day passes, and other great prizes.  Entries will be displayed by the Sweet Pea Festival at the Jacob’s Crossing Lobby (424 E Main St) from December 5th - December 7th. Entries must be picked up on Sunday, December 8 between noon and 4pm.

This year’s contest is graciously hosted by the Sweet Pea Festival, sponsored by First Security Bank and awards donated by Personalize It.  Please call 586-4008, or email info@downtownbozeman.org for questions and additional information!

*$1 “People’s Choice” Ballots will be available at the door during the Christmas Stroll. All Donations go to Sweet Pea Festival.


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Thursday, Nov. 7th, 2019

Montana Science Center to celebrate International Science Center Day with Women in STEM Day

The Montana Science Center (MSC) is proud to announce the Women in STEM Day on Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 11am to 2pm. The Montana Science Center is hosting this event as part of their Women in STEM Series, this month honoring International Science Center and Science Museums Day, recognized as November 10th each year.

During this time, the Science Center will feature local women engineers and scientists who will be leading activities and experiments that represent their field of study. The featured scientists and engineers include women engineers from local engineering firms, women scientists from Montana State University, InFocus Astronomy and more.

MSC’s Executive Director, Abby Turner, states, “Creating gateways for students, particularly females, by introducing them to the extensive topics that encompass STEM, is a driving purpose of the Science Center. We recognize that an introduction to engineering and technology is about much more than just tasks, it’s about creating a lifelong interest in exploring the world with a curious mind. Through our various programs we aim to introduce those students to a wide range of STEM activities in order to spark creativity and critical thinking. International Science Center and Science Museums Day is a great time to create collaborations between those discovering science, like families, and those who work every day in a STEM field.”

Women in STEM Day is open to the public and free with admission. Families will be able to explore the science center as well as the displays provided by the guest speakers.

The Montana Science Center is located at 202 S. Willson St. For more information, please contact Abby Turner at (406)522-9087, or see our website at www.montanasciencecenter.org.


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Monday, Nov. 4th, 2019

Focus is Family at Gallatin Valley Mall on Thanksgiving

Hundreds of malls across the nation are closing their doors on Thanksgiving and Gallatin Valley Mall is no exception. The mall closed the last three years on Thanksgiving; a decision that will be repeated this year after receiving overwhelming support from retailers and customers.

GVM General Manager, Deb Jacupke states, “It has always been our priority to allow for our retailers, both national and local, to determine what works best for their employees, families, and customers concerning Thanksgiving shopping hours.” Although the stores will be closed, the mall will be open for any community members who would like a warm, dry place to take a walk and window shop after finishing Thanksgiving dinner.

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Making the Transition from New York to Bozeman This Holiday Season

Making the transition from New York to Bozeman was nothing short of radical. Shopping goes beyond existing as its own language in such a grand metropolis; shopping is a sport and a coveted one at that. Whether you recognize it or not, shopping is an experience and that experience is tailored to you based on where you choose to invest. Find yourself in Gucci or Dior, you should expect to be offered champagne on your endeavor to find the best suit or dress. Find yourself in JC Penny, you should expect to find items misplaced on racks or screaming children running through the various isles. All in all, experience is pivotal to the retail industry and customers value that, whether it's on the forefront of their mind or not. Some particular Bozeman transplants may understand this and with the holidays coming fourth, should big-name department stores continue to be our go-to? How about the experiences we have in local boutiques in town?

Looking largely at the retail stores located in Bozeman, locals are offered quite a lot in such a small area. We fall short of luxury brands although Schnee’s downtown carries Canada Goose for both men and women; Revolr and Evrgreen downtown carry contemporary Netherlands brand Scotch & Soda. Sure, you can pick yourself up something decent from Kohl’s, Macy’s or Target too but let’s pull our focus in on the local shoppes that deserve more recognition.

Collective by Dawn Josephine, centered in downtown Bozeman, is one example of how a local shopping destination can offer impeccable homemade craftsmanship, high-end furniture, and luxurious accessories minus the label. Her three lines of distinctive jewelry capture the essence of Montana; some with the choice of being one-of-a-kind, embezzled with precious/semi-precious gemstones with sterling silver and gold hand wiring wrapping, or simply, a vintage flare. The artists she selects all come from her worldly travels where she pinpoints unique, quality products with affordable pricing.

If you’re interested in quality furniture, all Dawn Josephine Furniture is handmade in the USA with 80% of the materials having been derived from within the United States. You can choose from over 300 fabrics, frame, leg and arm styles, wood and nailhead finishes to cushion firmness and throw pillow design. In-home consultations are free when you select furniture from Dawn Josephine’s store! This kind of experience immediately sets you apart from non-independent retailers in the city. Collective by Dawn Josephine longs for you to have personable experience; your delight in choosing a local establishment over a big-name brand ensures their success. I highly recommend Dawn’s boutique; the unique pieces you can find are stylish, modern and alluring in their design. Moreover, the candles are far better than those you can find at Anthropologie.

If somebody can’t seem to find something on someone’s wishlist here in Bozeman, it would make sense to run away to the world of deep online shopping. Purchasing clothing on the web amongst other goods we probably don’t need is one of the first things people do when they type into their search bar. Lately, FashionNova has become extremely popular amongst the younger demographic as well as Tobi, ASOS, TopMan, TopShop, Pretty Little Thing US, and Revolve. I have definitely had to turn to online shopping due to the fact that Bozeman’s selection isn’t as voluminous as other major cities. With that being said, I decided to rethink my approach to clothing in terms of experience. You can’t necessarily know how something fits unless you’ve shopped a certain brand before. I know what size I am in J. Crew and that knowledge will forever support me; the same goes for Club Monaco and AllSaints. I can shop online and not have to worry about whether or not I will have to come face to face with the U.S. Postal service for a return. Shopping locally, however, inspired me and I figured, why not just translate my understanding of shopping locally of household furniture, etc. for clothing? Surely, I would be able to find similar items that cater to my taste and preferred style.

In July of 2013, Revolvr Menswear was opened in Bozeman, Montana by Jon and Christine Davis. Their intent was to offer affordable clothing of quality to men who want to appear professional and feel comfortable at the same time. At least, that’s how I interpret their store. Revolvr offers beautiful sports coats and button-down shirts. They also provide numerous opportunities to go back and forth between contrasting styles of tank-tops for the summer. Keep in mind, however, that the material is much sturdier and cleaner-cut than your average tank top. In plain language, you should expect to try on clothing with clean lines, beautiful quality but nothing too over the top. Their sister store, Evrgreen is located only a couple stores away in Downtown Bozeman and caters most specifically to women. In spite of that, I did pick up my Herschel backpack there that I absolutely love for the aesthetic. In whatever way, Revolvr and Evrgreen sell clothing that reflects the vibe of Urban Outfitters and J.Crew. They meet in the middle, offering a local shopper the sort of style that would be familiar in both a major city like Boston and the kind of “outdoor” clothing you’ll typically come across in Bozeman. Designated as the “fancier” stores by those I’ve talked with about the fashion scene in Bozeman, Evrgreen and Revolvr would be the perfect spots to pick up a gift for your friend or loved one this holiday season. If you’re searching for the promise of incomparability to a big box store, these are your best two options.

Many people may claim that “they don’t care” when it comes to style when in fact, style is what defines us. We wear clothing that reflects who we are as people just as how a haircut shapes our identity during a certain period of time. It’s important to care about what you put on your body and where you’re buying that clothing from. The same exact thing goes for furniture. If you were supposedly buying a painting by a brilliant artist for around 6.5 million dollars and later learned that the style was emulated and achieved by a six-year old, would you be angry? Of course you would be; the place you go to for a certain product makes all the difference in quality, customer experience and loyalty to where you live. If that isn’t convincing for you, think about your last vacation. Wouldn’t you have chosen to get a souvenir from a local artist instead of picking up some random crap at the local gas station or airport? That’s because your desire to take something more memorable home is the most important thing on your journey. Bozeman is a beautiful place and if someone were to tell you that they traveled all the way across the country to Bozeman just to buy you a chair from Target, would that chair truly be from Bozeman?

Supporting local retailers should be on the forefront of your mind this holiday season because the luxury of having local places to shop is rare. There comes a time when you see those businesses going out of business because too many people don’t want to take the time and invest in something that is most likely better than what they’re currently throwing too much money at. A local understands what another local wants. How is Target or Macy’s going to understand someone living in Bozeman if they themselves, do not?

Challenge yourself in discovering the other local hot spots in Bozeman this winter. If you’re hyped up about the upcoming sale going on at Macy’s or JC Penny, chances are, those were the items people didn’t want in the first place. (Insert teeth-clenching smiley face here). I believe that everyone who has moved out to Bozeman came here with a similar mindset. That mindset was to get away… to get away from the hustle and bustle of wherever they originated and find themselves in the mountains. They didn’t come all of the way here just to stand in Barnes and Noble and wonder what is worth reading. They came here to explore the local bookstores with staff picks and the local eateries to discover something new about their tastebuds. You came here with the intention of letting go of what you used to know and get into the minds of people who want the same thing as you. At least, I did. I came here with an open mind and by giving it a try, I found countless treasures along the shelves and display cases of local boutiques that I never would have found otherwise.

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MSU freshman Rachael Koss wins Science as Art contest with time-lapse video

Montana State University freshman Rachael Koss has ridden horses since she could sit up, and her love for the animals led her to pursue a degree in the equine science program in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Department of Animal and Range Sciences. Inspired by the beauty of Montana and the livestock she works with and studies, Koss created a piece of art that won the College of Agriculture’s fifth annual Science as Art contest, part of the Celebrate Agriculture event Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.

The Science as Art contest began in 2015 as a way for students within the College of Agriculture to combine scientific and creative elements of their academic and hands-on agricultural experiences. Past winners, as well as Koss’ project, can be viewed at http://agriculture.montana.edu/celebrateag/scienceasart.html.

Koss, a Michigan native, submitted a time-lapse video of her progress on a digital painting of a Santa Gertrudis bull, which took nearly 12 hours to complete. It was the first video project to win the contest. Though her studies focus on horses, Koss had reasons for selecting a breed of beef cattle as her subject matter.

“I’ve always really been taken with the King Ranch in Texas. They decided there needed to be a cow that was hearty and could withstand any climate, and they created the Santa Gertrudis, which is like the perfect breed of cattle,” Koss said.

Santa Gertrudis was created by crossing breeds native to southeast Asia and central America, and that unique background also provided Koss with inspiration.

“It shows the diversity of the United States, and also the beauty of the United States, our ability as people to withstand undesirable conditions,” she said.

Koss worked for 11 hours and 44 minutes to illustrate the image on an iPad, capturing the process with time-lapse video. The project allowed her to share her love of art while also paying homage to her new home in Montana, which she said provides further inspiration.

“When I look around at the mountains, it’s like living in a video game. It almost doesn’t look real,” Koss said. “I’m just so blessed to look out at the mountains every day and see that.” 

Koss’s video can be viewed online and will also be on display at the Celebrate Agriculture pre-game event on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The event will take place in the Strand Union Building ballrooms and is free and open to the public. 

For a full schedule of events for the 20th annual Celebrate Agriculture weekend, visit http://agriculture.montana.edu/celebrateag/index.html.

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Thursday, Oct. 31st, 2019

Looks & feels like mid-winter at Big Sky Resort - 237% of avg snow

It looks and feels like mid-winter today, with temps just starting to climb above zero, snow guns blazing, and natural snow covering Lone Peak. With 51” of total snowfall this month, Big Sky has received 237% of average snowfall, making this the third snowiest October in the past 20 years. Big Sky saw wind chill values as low as -20 this week, allowing for 80 hours of prime snowmaking conditions to build on a solid base.  Please see the below link for b-roll and photos of this week’s snow. Feel free to share on web, print, broadcast and social. And keep up the snow dances!

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Wednesday, Oct. 30th, 2019

MSU researchers win $3 million NIH grant to study gut immune system

One day, instead of requiring a painful needle injection, vaccinating against a host of formerly fatal diseases could be as simple as swallowing a pill. But getting to that point means first gaining a better understanding of how the immune system works in the complex human gut, according to Montana State University researcher Diane Bimczok.

"There's a big gap in our understanding," said Bimczok, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in MSU's College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science. Studies suggest a number of ways that immune cells surrounding the wall of the gastrointestinal tract interact with what's on the inside — whether harmful bacteria or an ingested vaccine — and trigger the body's response. But much about the exact mechanisms remains unclear, she said.

That's why she's excited to be part of an interdisciplinary MSU research team that won a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in September. The five-year project will explore the capabilities of a new, miniaturized way to simulate and study the gut's immune system.

"We're definitely pushing the boundaries with this technology," said associate professor of microbiology and immunology Seth Walk, who is co-leading the project with Bimczok and James Wilking, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering.

The technology is a cellphone-sized "chip" of plexiglass etched with laser-cut channels and chambers less than a millimeter wide. The chambers house spherical "organoids" engineered from human stem cells — "basically mini-guts," Bimczok explained. The channels, as well as tiny needles inserted into the organoids, allow the researchers to introduce bacteria and immune cells in a precisely controlled environment that mimics the gut's natural behavior, then observe the results.

The tool was inspired by Walk's ongoing research on microbial interactions in the human gut. Walk came up with the idea of an engineered organoid system with long-time collaborator Jason Spence of the University of Michigan. Along with MSU's Blake Wiedenheft, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, they won a grant from the Gates Foundation in 2013 to develop a working prototype. Walk then approached Wilking, a specialist in 3D printing, with the idea of developing a more sophisticated chip that could flow fluids through the organoids.

In September, Wilking and Walk published a paper with MSU chemical engineering graduate student Barkan Sidar in Lab on a Chip, a journal of The Royal Society of Chemistry, showing that the new chip could sustain controlled fluid flow through organoids for days at a time. Adding to the experimental setup for the new project, Bimczok recently developed a way of incorporating immune cells into organoids.

"Nobody has ever done this before," Wilking said. "And we think there's a lot of potential for further improving this technology (during the study funded by the new grant)."

Assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering Connie Chang, a partner on the project, will help the team harness new advances in microfluidics, in which the droplet-forming behavior of oil-infused liquid in the etched channels is used to enclose and transport tiny samples. In this case, Chang will help the team capture individual immune cells.

By examining the immune cells under powerful microscopes and analyzing their genetic material, the researchers hope to answer fundamental questions about the gut immune system: Do the immune cells work primarily by changing shape to penetrate the organ lining and probe the gut's contents? Are the biochemical cues secreted by the organ wall mainly what trigger the immune cells to turn on certain genes?

"This is a true collaboration between engineering and biology," Chang said. "Some of the most interesting problems in engineering right now are at the interface with human health."

According to microbiology and immunology department head and MUS Regents Professor Mark Jutila, the fifth member of the team, the project is part of a bigger push by the National Institutes of Health and others to find experimental tools that can more accurately predict how the human body will respond to new therapies. Traditionally, treatments are tested on animals and then cultures of human cells that are not as life-like as organoids. "I think this could be a huge advance for the field," he said.

That would open up new possibilities for developing and testing medicines that specifically target the complex immune system in the human gut. "If we understand this system at a fine level, we can design better oral vaccines," Walk said. "There's a lot of potential."

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New MSU instrument collects sun data aboard NASA rocket

On the launch pad at White Sands Missile Range, the 10-foot section of a NASA sounding rocket housing scientific instruments designed and built by a team at Montana State University to observe explosive events in the sun’s atmosphere was encased in Styrofoam to shield it from the New Mexico sun.

Graduate student Catherine Bunn monitored the instruments’ temperature, chilling them as needed with liquid nitrogen. Fellow graduate students Roy Smart and Jacob Parker, along with Charles Kankelborg, a professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Letters and Science, made last-minute checks.

But would the rocket fly?

It was late September. The launch had originally been scheduled for Aug. 20, but a critical vibration test shook a screw loose and left a mirror out of alignment.

“They were essentially trying to rattle the payload apart and more or less succeeded,” said Kankelborg. “As much as we dread vibration tests, they are a necessary test to ensure the payload is ready for launch. It is much better to break a screw on the ground than in flight.”

So, the team shipped their camera assembly to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for repairs. They converged back at White Sands at the beginning of September and again readied for launch.

But on Sept. 24, the clock counted down to zero on the second launch attempt, the ignition key turned, and — nothing happened. An open circuit fault in the ignition system pushed the launch back yet again.

Third time was the charm, however, for the first flight of ESIS, an Extreme ultraviolet Snapshot Imaging Spectrograph built by MSU’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Its predecessor MOSES, or Multi-Order Solar Extreme ultraviolet Spectrograph, was also on board.

While the ESIS and MOSES programs represent huge potential for future development as a primary instrument on a future satellite, the sounding rocket missions are only a part of the scope of the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory’s work, according to David Klumpar, a professor of physics and director of the laboratory. The interdisciplinary laboratory was founded in 2000 and has about four active projects with launches expected in the next few years. Those include tiny satellites between 2 and 15 pounds that will end up in orbit around the Earth and giant 1000-pound instrument payloads for large balloons that reach the edge of the atmosphere. Teams for each project include both undergraduate and graduate students.

“We work proactively to have students at all levels involved in what it takes to design and build and operate hardware for research in space,” Klumpar said.

This is the third time an MSU team has worked with NASA scientists at White Sands. The previous two launches in 2006 and 2015 carried only versions of MOSES.

“We just build the instrument,” Kankelborg said before the launch. “They’re going to launch it into space and point it at the sun.”

ESIS observes the sun’s atmosphere, specifically looking for explosive events in the solar transition region at the roots of the corona. The explosive events are powered by magnetic reconnection, where magnetic fields within a plasma rearrange and discharge heat and kinetic energy. This is the same process behind solar flares — extreme and sudden energy releases Kankelborg likens to nuclear bombs, if one were to multiply their power by a “very big number.”

While the team can’t plan for solar flares, even with a so-called quiet sun, free of sunspots or visible prominences, the smaller explosive events are common. On its first launch in February 2006, the MOSES instrument detected 41 explosive events in a five-minute window, Kankelborg said. And that was also a quiet sun.

“The magnetic network is always moving around, always changing,” Kankelborg said. “As the magnetic fields move around and crash into each other, they create little explosive events. They can be Earth-sized and reasonably powerful but are not spectacular like solar flares.”

The explosive events form jets of gas that emit light. Studying the images from a spectrograph frame by frame allows the team to measure the velocity of that gas through shifts in the light’s wavelength.

With the gathered data, the team will seek insights into how the sun stores and releases energy through magnetic reconnection. Large energy releases on the sun can hurl clouds of magnetized plasma into space. When that plasma nears Earth, it causes some beautiful phenomena, such as the northern lights. However, it could also expose flight crews to radiation or interrupt satellite signals.     

For the Sept. 30 launch, ESIS and MOSES were a roughly 600-pound payload on the NASA sounding rocket, which was otherwise loaded with equipment to control its trajectory, aim the instruments at the sun and bring the rocket safely back to Earth. Sounding rockets are suborbital rockets that carry instruments into outer space for scientific research but do not go fast or high enough to orbit the Earth.

That’s not to say they’re slow. Unlike rockets carrying people, the sounding rockets launch at incredible speeds, producing G-forces that would be dangerous to humans. The rocket’s engines carried the instruments 164 miles above the surface of the Earth on the 15-minute flight, creating about 12 Gs of force off the launch pad. After the rockets burnt out and separated from the payload, a door opened at the end of the experiment for the five-minute data collection window.

To ready for the launch, grad student Parker focused on optics, testing the alignment and focus of ESIS and MOSES over and over. Smart was focused on the software and data collection. He designed a powerful neural network to take the data from the 2-D detectors and process it into 3-D images.

The debut of ESIS looks to be a success in terms of sun data collection, Kankelborg said. Initial images from MOSES didn’t show solar features, a possible indicator of shutter failure, but what it did capture revealed something unexpected. High energy electrons above Earth's atmosphere passed easily through the aluminum skin of the experiment section to the MOSES cameras, leaving bright spots and tracks on the otherwise dark images.

“High energy electrons like that are normally associated with the Van Allen radiation belts,” Kankelborg said. “They are commonly detected in sounding rocket launches from Alaska or other high latitude locations. It is exceedingly rare to observe them as far south as New Mexico.”

Two of MSU’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory satellites in orbit since early 2015 collect data on these high energy electrons from an altitude about 150 miles above MOSES. According to Klumpar, these satellites may have serendipitously been in position to directly measure the electrons that caused the tracks to appear on the MOSES camera images.

Much of how the sun works remains a mystery, Smart explained, but the local star has long been a source of advancement in physics.

“It’s an awesome laboratory within our view,” he said.

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