Residents from New York to North Carolina may see a rare light show high in Earth’s atmosphere early Sunday morning.
Blue-green and red artificial clouds created by a NASA sounding rocket will appear in the dawn sky as a as part of an experiment to study the ionosphere and aurora, a NASA release said.
The rocket is scheduled for launch from Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore some time between 4:27 and 4:42 a.m. on Sunday.
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The rocket launch has been delayed several times, first because of bad weather and then because boats were in an area where the rocket was slated to land in the Atlantic Ocean, the release said.
Clouds will be created by 10 soda can-sized canisters ejected when the rocket is between 96 and 124 miles high, the release said. The vapor tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.
The clouds will not pose any hazards to people on the ground, the release said.
Ground cameras will be stationed at Wallops and in Duck, North Carolina to view the clouds, the release said. The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 3:30 a.m. on launch day for viewing the flight and live coverage of the mission, scheduled to begin at 3:45 a.m., is available on the Wallops Ustream site.
Users can also follow along on Wallops’ Facebook and Twitter sites and smartphone users can download the “What’s Up at Wallops” app, which contains information on the launch as well as a compass showing the precise direction for launch viewing.
More information on the NASA sounding rocket missions and the use of vapor tracers in science research is available at nasa.gov/soundingrockets.