Residents from New York to North Carolina could see a rare light show high in Earth’s atmosphere. But after several scrubbed attempts so far, it’s uncertain when.
After previously postponing the launch due to weather conditions and other issues, NASA plans to launch a rocket from Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore some time between 9:05 and 9:20 p.m. Sunday night.
When the rocket launches, people in North Carolina could see blue-green and red artificial clouds created in the sky as part of an experiment to study the ionosphere and aurora, according to NASA.
About 10 soda can-sized canisters will deploy between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch (between 96 and 124 miles high), releasing blue-green and red vapor to form artificial clouds. These clouds, or vapor tracers, allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. The clouds may be visible along the mid-Atlantic coastline from New York to North Carolina.
The clouds will not pose any hazards to people on the ground, according to NASA.
NASA had planned to launch on Monday and Tuesday last week, the sixth and seventh attempts for the mission, but had to cancel because of clouds. A variety of issues have caused previous mission scrubs, including high winds, clouds and boats in the hazard area.
Future launch updates will be available via the Wallops Facebook and Twitter sites.