If you’re on the east coast and see some odd-colored clouds in the sky, it’s probably science’s fault.
NASA, America’s second-coolest space agency, is testing a new “ampoule ejection system” in its rockets with a set of vapor-generating canisters to form artificially colored clouds used in studying the ionosphere. The launch will occur in Virginia between 9:04 and 9:19 p.m. from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
The canisters will deploy between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch forming blue-green and red artificial clouds. These clouds, or vapor tracers, allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. The development of the multi-canister ampoule ejection system will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously allowed when deploying the tracers just from the main payload.
The colored clouds are actually vapor tracers used by the agency to study particle motion in space. According to NASA, the clouds could be seen anywhere from New York to North Carolina.
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After launching the canisters, the rocket’s 670-pound payload (which won’t be recovered) is set to land in the Atlantic Ocean.
Not on the east coast? NASA’s got you covered. In addition to updates via Facebook and Twitter, the space agency is livestreaming the mission at 8:30pm, pairing it with a Facebook Live stream at 8:50pm. The mission’s flight time is an estimated 8 minutes, so don’t be late.