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NASA was scheduled to launch a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, between 9:04 and 9:18 p.m. on June 13, but the mission was postponed due to cloudy skies, NASA confirmed on Twitter.
NASA | Research

Look up! NASA to release red and blue-green clouds for study


Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 6:32 PM - NASA will be launching a Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, releasing red and blue-green clouds into the sky. The mission will deploy 10 canisters from the new multi-canister ampoule ejection system, according to the agency’s latest press release.

The launch was originally scheduled between 9:04 and 9:18 p.m. on June 13, but the mission was postponed due to cloudy skies, NASA confirmed on Twitter.

"The next launch attempt of the sounding rocket at Wallops is no earlier than Thursday, June 15," tweeted the agency. "Launch window will be 9:05 - 9:20 p.m." 


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For those stateside, the event will be a spectacle in the sky.

The soda-can-sized canisters will release barium, strontium and cupric-oxide vapor tracers to form artificial red and blue-green clouds that scientists will then use to study the earth’s ionosphere and aurora. 

The colorful clouds will be visable along the East Coast, from New York to North Carolina and westward to Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Although the flight will last about eight minutes, the colorful clouds could linger for 20 minutes, depending on atmospheric conditions. 

NASA ground stations at Wallops Island and Duck, N.C., will track the clouds so scientists can learn more Earth's ionosphere, a layer at the top of the atmosphere of charged particles that shoot out into space, creating effects including auroral displays over the planet's polar regions. 

Scientists want to learn more about how the ionosphere interacts with other layers of the atmosphere. 

"The ionosphere is both shaped by waves from the atmosphere below and uniquely responsive to the changing conditions in space," NASA said.

The visitor’s center at Wallops will be open about an hour before the launch for anyone who wants to personally see the rocket blast off. But if conditions still aren’t right, there’s a chance NASA might call off the launch at the last minute.

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