Should things go according to plan, NASA's sounding rocket experiment could light up the sky in the early hours of Sunday morning, June 4. Here are the different ways you can witness the colorful cloud show.
As NASA launches its Terrier-Improved Malamute sounding rocket from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, its scientists are expecting to gather new, relevant information that they can use in studying the aurora and the ionosphere. But as with true NASA fashion, the space agency is more than willing to share the experience with the public.
Though it had already been delayed a couple of times before, NASA has scheduled the launch of its sounding rocket for early Sunday morning. Should the skies prove clear enough for NASA to carry on with the launch, early risers in the mid-Atlantic coast from New York to North Carolina will be able to witness the sky being illuminated by blue-green and red luminescent artificial clouds.
The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will be open as early as 3:30 a.m. on the day of the launch for anyone who would like to watch.
If you are unfortunately not in the area or if you wake up late and miss the colorful clouds completely, not to worry because as always, NASA will be posting updates on its Facebook and Twitter pages. What's more, NASA will be posting a live stream of the launch on the Wallops Ustream site, which is scheduled to begin at 3:45 a.m.
— NASA (@NASA) June 2, 2017
Sounding Rocket Experiment
During the two-stage process of the launch, 10 canisters the size of soda cans will be deployed into the air at about 6 to 12 miles away from the 670-pound main payload. Between four and five and a half minutes after the launch, the canisters will then deploy the colored vapor, forming the artificial clouds. As part of the science mission, the colored clouds will allow scientists to visually see the movements of particles in space.
Because the rocket will deploy multiple canisters, this will allow scientists to study a much larger area as compared with previous attempts.
Sounding rocket experiments have been on-going for the past 40 years and have provided NASA with relevant scientific, educational, and technical contributions to space programs. Sounding rockets' time in space is often brief at just 5 to 20 minutes at a time, and they are also versatile, and cost and time efficient.