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Sub-orbital Local Interstellar Cloud Experiment
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Title: H2 Excitation Structure on the Sightlines to delta Scorpius and zeta Ophiucus - First Results from the Sub-orbital Local Interstellar Cloud Experiment 
Authors: Kevin France, Nicholas Nell, Robert Kane (Colorado), Eric B. Burgh (SOFIA/USRA), Matthew Beasley (Planetary Resources), James C. Green (Colorado) 

We present the first science results from the Sub-orbital Local Interstellar Cloud Experiment (SLICE): moderate resolution 1020-1070A spectroscopy of four sightlines through the local interstellar medium. High signal-to-noise (S/N) spectra of eta Uma, alpha Vir, delta Sco, and zeta Oph were obtained during a 21 April 2013 rocket flight. The SLICE observations constrain the density, molecular photoexcitation rates, and physical conditions present in the interstellar material towards delta Sco and zeta Oph. Our spectra indicate a factor of two lower total N(H2) than previously reported for delta Sco, which we attribute to higher S/N and better scattered light control in the new SLICE observations. We find N(H2) = 1.5 x 10^{19} cm^{-2} on the delta Sco sightline, with kinetic and excitation temperatures of 67 and 529 K, respectively, and a cloud density of n_{H} = 56 cm^{-3}. Our observations of the bulk of the molecular sightline toward zeta Oph are consistent with previous measurements (N(H2) ~ 3 x 10^{20} cm^{-2} at T_{01} = 66 K and T_{exc} = 350 K). However, we detect significantly more rotationally excited H2 towards zeta Oph than previously observed. We infer a cloud density in the rotationally excited component of n_{H} ~ 7600 cm^{-3} and suggest that the increased column densities of excited H2 are a result of the ongoing interaction between zeta Oph and its environment; also manifest as the prominent mid-IR bowshock observed by WISE and the presence of vibrationally-excited H2 molecules observed by HST. 

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Experiment Examining a SLICE of the Interstellar Medium

When you look up at the stars at night, the space between stars looks empty. But, yes there is something there. Its called the interstellar medium. An experiment from the University of Colorado will fly on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on December 15 to study this space between the stars.
The Sub-orbital Local Interstellar Cloud Experiment (SLICE) will use an 8-inch diameter telescope and spectrograph covering the far-ultraviolet wavelength range from 102 107 nm.
SLICE is scheduled for launch at 10 pm. MST, Dec. 15, on a Black Brant IX sounding rocket. The experiment will fly to a projected apogee of 198 miles during the nearly 16-minute flight.

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