NASA Rocket To Create Artificial Clouds Over Mid-Atlantic Ocean

Posted: May 31 2017, 6:44am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA Rocket to Create Artificial Clouds Over Mid-Atlantic Ocean
Credit: NASA

The artificial glowing clouds will allow researchers to trace the flow and the motion of winds in the Earth's upper atmosphere

A NASA rocket will light up the Thursday morning sky with artificial glowing clouds. These clouds are basically a part of NASA’s new experiment to measure auroras and their interactions with wind in the Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere. The launch was originally scheduled for May 31 but has been pushed forward to June 1 due to bad weather.

For this mission, a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket will be launched from Wallops Island and it will carry ten canisters about the size of a soft drink into the space. The tiny canisters will release blue green and red vapor forming artificial clouds. The clouds that will be deployed in the air at a specific distance will allow scientists on the ground to visually track the flow and motion of winds in space.

What makes the new testing system unique is that it will enable researchers to observe different layers of Earth atmosphere over a much larger area. It was not possible to see this difference with previous approaches. Ground camera stationed at Wallops will help researchers to view the colorful vapor tracers. So the launch decision was largely dependent on clear skies.

“They are interested in learning more about the dynamics of the atmosphere at that level.” Astronomer Derrick Pitts told NBC10.

“(Scientists) want to make sure it's a contrasting color that's not normally seen. If you're on the outside looking up, you're going to look up and you'll see some odd-colored clouds. You'll immediately identify this as not being normal.”

The vapor tracers are formed through the interaction of barium, strontium and cupric-oxide. They will be released at altitudes 96 to 124 miles high and will pose no danger to community along the mid-Atlantic coast. The vapor traces will be visible from different parts of United States, including New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.

“If you are over in south Jersey in the Vineland area or even down at the Jersey shore, you might be able to see not only the clouds but you might even be able to see the rocket as it takes off from Wallops Island which will be down south and east of New Jersey.” said Pitts.

The mission is expected to last 8 minutes. When the main payload falls into the Atlantic Ocean, it will mark the end of the mission and it will not be recovered.

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