Countdown to Begin For Five Sounding Rockets to Illuminate Eastern U.S. Night Sky
WASHINGTON – NASA managers have given a "go" for a countdown leading to the launch of five suborbital sounding rockets just after midnight tonight on a science mission that will briefly create a milky white cloud that may be visible along a large portion of the U.S. east coast.
The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) mission will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.
As part the mission, the sounding rocket launch team at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., will launch five rockets 80 seconds apart, each of which will release a chemical tracer to create clouds allowing scientists and the public to “see” the winds in space.
The available launch window opens at midnight and extends for three hours. A significant criteria for launch to proceed will be clear skies not only at Wallops but also at sites in New Jersey and North Carolina. The probability for acceptable weather for launch tonight is less than 10%.
The temporary clouds may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont.
More information on the ATREX mission is available on the Internet at:
The mission will be webcast beginning at 8 p.m. this evening at:
ATREX KMZ File for Google Earth
See the ATREX rocket trajectories in Google Earth!
Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files are zipped into what’s known as a KMZ. When this is put into Google Earth, you can see the path the rockets will take.
Download this KMZ (above) of the ATREX trajectories to see them in Google Earth on your computer or mobile device.
When open in Google Earth, click the small clock in the upper left of the player “to toggle time slider animation”. This will show a time lapse of each rocket launch.
If you don’t have Google Earth, download a copy here:
Wallops Release No. 12-09
Wallops Flight Facility