On Monday, June 12, NASA will once again attempt to launch a rocket from Wallops Island, which will fill the sky with multicolored clouds.
NASA's Fifth Attempt At This Experiment
This will be NASA's fifth attempt at this experiment, as the previous attempts had to be postponed. The first series of attempts had to be canceled due to weather, and Sunday night's plans were delayed due to boats in the restricted area.
If things go according to plan, NASA's rocket will release several canisters filled with gas into the air, which will create clouds of red and blue gas. The gas in question isn't harmful and is made up of three different chemicals: barium, lithium, and tri-methyl aluminum. You may not know the names of those chemicals, but you've probably seen them in action on the Fourth of July as they're used in fireworks. In fact, firework shows tend to release far higher volumes of these chemicals than NASA's experiment.
Of course, that doesn't mean that precautions aren't necessary. As previously mentioned, Sunday's launch was canceled due to the fact that a boat was in the area where the canisters were expected to fall. Previous launches had to be canceled due to strong winds. The canisters aren't very big, about the size of a can of Coke, but they will be falling from heights of about 100 miles.
The Purpose Of This Experiment
While the view will certainly be impressive, NASA isn't doing this to put on a show. The experiment is meant to help NASA study the way clouds move at extremely high altitudes. The space agency says that the study of these clouds can be important to understanding the movement of mass and energy.
"The movement of neutral and ionized gases are important to understand as they reveal how mass and energy are transported from one region to another. These movements also respond to changes in the sun's activity."
How To Watch It
If you're on the East Coast, then you might be able to see the clouds for yourself — assuming there are no more delays. Go outside around 9 p.m. and look toward the Wallops facility. Obviously, that will depend on your location. The launch window is set between 9:04 and 9:19 EDT, so pull up NASA channel on YouTube to see when the launch will occur.
Eric Brackett Tech Times editor Eric Brackett is a tech junkie and a gamer, covering science and technology. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for updates and his random thoughts on the latest trends in gaming, tech, and comic books.