If you see something strange in the nigh time sky this evening, don’t panic: it’s just one of five rockets launched by NASA from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Not only will many on the East Coast be able to see these rockets while gazing up at the stars, the space agency will also stream the event on the web
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has scheduled the launch of five suborbital rockets from Wallops Island, Virginia for later this evening. Sometime between midnight and 5am EDT, the five rockets will release chemical tracers to measure high-speed winds 60 miles above the Earth’s surface, with two rockets also measuring temperature and pressure near the edge of space.
The reason for the late night launch is that it will provide NASA with clear skies and a dark moon for optimal viewing conditions. The rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form white clouds that will allow both scientists and the public to detect high winds in space. The clouds may be visible for up to twenty minutes by residents from South Carolina to New Hampshire and Vermont.
The launch was previously scheduled for the evening of March 14th, but was delayed because of a “payload problem,” according to NASA.
NASA will webcast the launch beginning at 8pm EDT, with the rocket launches occurring sometime between midnight and 5am EDT. The operation countdown will begin at 7pm, which should provide an estimated time as to when the rockets will launch. Updates will be posted on NASA’s Wallops Island twitter feed (@NASA_Wallops).
Illustration by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center