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Lanzerotti's Launch Makes It: Wee Hour Party at NJIT Sees Atlas V Take-Off

Rivaling the kind of devotion reserved for rock stars, a band of space weather groupies surrounding NJIT Distinguished Research Professor Lou Lanzerotti stayed up all night into the next day to witness the long-awaited launch of Atlas V.  

More than a dozen of these hearty souls showed up to party at 3 a.m. on Aug. 30, 2012 in Tiernan Hall on the NJIT campus, to witness via NASA TV the 4 a.m. launch from Cape Canaveral of the twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission.    

Lanzerotti is the principal investigator behind one of five instruments aboard the RBSP.  The launch had already been cancelled several times due to a combination of technical glitches and poor weather.  Thankfully, both issues were resolved.  In anticipation of the original blast-off, The Star-Ledger reported last week on Lanzerotti and the effort.

But finally the big moment arrived and there they finally gathered at 4 a.m.-- really, check the clock.—for the moment.    Explains NJIT Physics Professor Andy Gerrard:

“We projected the entire NASA launch onto a 50-inch screen and used external speakers, complete with subwoofer, to get that unique rumble feeling.    As we watched the launch, Lou, who couldn’t be with us, called in and we put him on speaker phone so we could share the moment together.

“And then we saw the launch. We watched it go up in space.  We saw the first stage separation, then the second stage activation.  We basically tracked the entire start of the  mission! 

“We then celebrated by popping the champagne corks with Lou still on speaker phone. There was a toast to RBSP and then to Lou.  Earlier we had put out coffee and donuts.  Many of the students were actually here the entire night.”

The hearty band included (as seen in the attached photo, from left) first row:  NJIT Research Scientist Bob Melville, New Providence; UCLA Research Professor Jacob Bortnik, Leonia, who is now also affiliated with NJIT; undergraduate Scott Lieberman, Cranford.         

In the second row, recent graduate and doctoral candidate in the NJIT Department of Physics Paul Dupiano, Union;  doctoral candidate in physics Kevin Urban, Clifton;  administrative assistant Christine Oertel, Roselle Park;  project manager  Felicia Margolies, Sayreville

In the third Row, doctoral candidate in physics Kyung-guk Min, Newark;  master’s degree  candidate, physics, Dhvanit Mehta, Edison; recent master’s degree graduate also in physics, Anthony Teti, Landing;  Gerrard, Bridgewater;  digital engineer Nimish Sane, Belleville;  NJIT Research Professor Jeongwoo Lee, Paramus.

One of the nation’s leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,400 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $121 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey.