In April 2012, SPACE.com reporter Mike Wall joined a team of scientists searching for auroras in the chilly reaches of Alaska. Join Mike on his trip with this photo journal, which begins - like all trips - with some packing. Mike Wall: I broke out the warm clothes for my trip to Fairbanks, but the Great White North isn't throwing any blizzards my way. Daytime temperatures have climbed into the mid-40s Fahrenheit during my stay. [See our complete coverage of Mike's journey.]
The aurora dances high in the sky over Murphy Dome, Alaska, early in the morning on April 11, 2012.
The northern lights blaze in the Alaskan sky in the early morning hours of April 11, 2012, trumping the city lights of nearby Fairbanks (at right).
The snow-covered mountains of Canada's Yukon Territory, as seen during the flight from Seattle to Fairbanks.
A look at Fairbanks from above.
Taxidermists must do a brisk business in Fairbanks. There is no shortage of mounted trophy animals, antlers and pelts, such as this polar bear skin, which hangs in the lobby of my hotel.
Sunset in Fairbanks, at around 9:15 p.m. local time.
This house about 10 minutes outside of Fairbanks served as headquarters for the Project Aether: Aurora team.
Some tools of the expedition's trade: snowshoes and helium tanks.
The aurora expedition made a lasting impression, carving its name into a rock wall near the rented house.
SPACE.com reporter Mike Wall stands near a possible balloon launch site; Alaska's White Mountains loom in the distance.
Project Aether: Aurora leader Ben Longmier holds up a SPACE.com T-shirt that rose to the edge of the Alaskan aurora in a weather balloon on April 11, 2012.
Project Aether: Aurora chief Ben Longmier (left) studies the location of a landed balloon payload while other team members prepare payloads for a launch.
A balloon payload "lunchbox" that carried a GPS tracking device and several small American flags nearly 20 miles into the Alaskan sky. Project Aether: Aurora will send these flags to schools for free.
A SPACE.com T-shirt made its way onto the rig that was launched toward the Alaskan aurora on April 11, 2012.
Alaska's northern lights dance behind SPACE.com reporter Mike Wall in this photo taken April 11, 2012, on the slopes of Murphy Dome mountain.
Team members fill the weather balloon with helium early in the morning of April 11, 2012, most of the way up Alaska's Murphy Dome mountain.
Project Aether: Aurora leader Ben Longmier is set to send the weather balloon — which bore multiple cameras, small American flags and a SPACE.com T-shirt — to the edge of Alaska's northern lights display on April 11, 2012.[See our complete coverage of SPACE.com reporter Mike Wall's Alaska journey.]
Project Aether: Aurora leader Ben Longmier stands with a weather balloon payload recovered April 11, 2012, after a snowshoe trek through the Alaska backcountry.
Golden light fills the Alaskan air on April 11, 2012, as the sun sinks low in the sky and a snowshoe trek to recover a balloon payload nears its end.
The aurora as seen from atop Murphy Dome mountain near Fairbanks in the early morning of April 12, 2012.
Researchers prepare to launch an instrument-laden weather balloon toward Alaska's aurora on April 12, 2012 (at right is a radar facility).
An instrument-laden weather balloon rises toward the northern lights atop Alaska's Murphy Dome mountain in the early morning hours of April 12, 2012.
The northern lights dance above a radar facility at top of Murphy Dome mountain on April 12, 2012.
The northern lights flicker above Alaska's Murphy Dome mountain on April 12, 2012.
A team of sled dogs waits impatiently for the chance to go tearing off into the Alaskan backcountry on April 11, 2012.
A sled pulls out into a snowy plain about 40 minutes outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, on April 11, 2012.
Dogs relaxing after their run on April 11, 2012.
An Alaska sled dog taking shelter under a truck after finishing a run on April 11, 2012. The day was unseasonably warm, with highs around 50 degrees Fahrenheit; the dogs are used to running at much colder temperatures.