The Payload Walkdown today was an opportunity for the PI, experiment team, and NSROC team to make final inspections and checks of all the systems of the rocket as it hangs complete upon the launch rail.
As it was one of the last chances to see and be with the payload and rocket before launch, it was an opportunity for other traditions as well.
One long-standing tradition is the writing of mottoes, farewell wishes, and other “graffiti” on sounding rockets prior to launch. Given the wellspring of haikus and haiku-like verseforms (HLVs) that arose in the science and engineering team a week ago (post to come), it was only natural that one ride with GREECE on its trip above the aurora (courtesy Valerie Gsell, NSROC):
Fly safely rocket,
High above the quiet Earth
Data streaming down
Surprisingly given the season there were also butterflies present in the launch enclosure:
Capturing them on film proved difficult until they tired and settled on various team members like broaches and lapel pins.
It’s unclear where they came from, although various team members remarked that they’d seen them during winter campaigns before, wondering if they had “hibernated” as adults since the fall and been awoken by the warmth of the work and heaters in the enclosure, or if they’d actually hatched out of season.
Further, regarding the butterfly: Ned Rozell (UAF/GI) identified this butterfly as a Compton Tortoiseshell,
Common in interior Alaska, but not in January.
The adults, like this one, winter inside buildings when they can. This guy got in the roof last fall and hibernated, only to be awakened by absurd, above-freezing air in January. Here’s hoping he was able to re-hibernate. He’s not well equipped for flying around in January.