Photo Journal: Northern Lights Expedition, a Reporter's-Eye View

Preparing to Launch a Balloon into Alaska's Aurora

Luke Kilpatrick

Researchers prepare to launch an instrument-laden weather balloon toward Alaska's aurora on April 12, 2012 (at right is a radar facility).

Weather Balloon Rising into Alaska's Aurora

Luke Kilpatrick

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.

Alaska's Northern Lights Above a Radar Dome

Luke Kilpatrick

The northern lights dance above a radar facility at top of Murphy Dome mountain on April 12, 2012.

Alaska's Aurora Blazes Above the Snow

Luke Kilpatrick

The northern lights flicker above Alaska's Murphy Dome mountain on April 12, 2012.

Sled Dogs at the Ready

Mike Wall/

A team of sled dogs waits impatiently for the chance to go tearing off into the Alaskan backcountry on April 11, 2012.

Sled Dogs Take Off

Mike Wall/

A sled pulls out into a snowy plain about 40 minutes outside of Fairbanks, Alaska, on April 11, 2012.

Ol' Blue Eyes

Mike Wall/

Dogs relaxing after their run on April 11, 2012.

Sled Dog Under a Car

Mike Wall/

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.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.