In 1963, NASA selected Rice University to participate in a study on airglow phenomena, a weak glow detected in the sky on dark nights. The idea was to send a series of rocket probes high into the atmosphere to take measurements that might help scientists better understand the mysterious phenomena.
Funded by grants from NASA and using government-provided Nike Apache rockets, Rice graduate students from the Space Sciences and Electrical Engineering Department designed and built the payloads. The project was directed by Dr. Brian O’Brien, a professor of Space Science at Rice.The instrument payloads were called the SAMMY, after Rice’s mascot. The first launch was in January, 1964, the last in April, 1965.
Two examples of the rockets used in the project can be found at the Woodson:
More images can be found at the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive and in the Space Science Department collection at the Woodson Research Center.
by Jeff Warner