The skies will light up this week when NASA attempts to create artificial clouds in space using a rocket.
If all goes well, the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket, which was designed to support studies of the ionosphere and aurora, will launch Thursday between 9:05 and 9:20 p.m. ET from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, according to the space agency.
Initially, the rocket was set to be released into space on Tuesday. However, NASA reported that weather conditions at the time were not conducive.
That was the seventh attempt but, in each case, the mission had to be called off due to various reasons such as high winds and clouds. According to NASA, clear skies are required to view the blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part of the test.
Elaborating on the mission, NASA stated that, as the rocket ascends into space, it will deploy canisters that release blue-green and red vapor to form artificial clouds. This will allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.
“The vapor tracers may be visible from New York to North Carolina and westward to Charlottesville, Virginia,” commented NASA. “The total flight time for the mission is expected to be about 8 minutes. The payload will land in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles from Wallops Island and will not be recovered.”
The Business Insider noted that the experiment is one of many initiatives directed at helping scientists to better probe two gaping holes in Earth's protective magnetic shield, called cusps.
It has been an ongoing challenge for scientists to understand how these cusps work and there is a push make them visible. The colored clouds will assist in this. Ultimately, the mission could result in researchers gaining a better understanding of various high-altitude phenomena.
Live coverage of the mission is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. on the Wallops Ustream site.
A Facebook live broadcast is also scheduled beginning at 8:50 p.m. Launch updates also are available via the Wallops Facebook and Twitter sites.
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