These clouds or vapour tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. (Image for representation, Source : NASA)
NASA on Saturday scrubbed the launch of a sounding rocket which will release blue-green and red artificial clouds. “Launch scrubbed because of boats in the impact area for the second stage motor. We will try again Sunday, June 4,” NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility announced on its Facebook page. The launch window is 4:26 to 4:41 a.m.EDT (1:56-2.11 p.m India time).
The launch of the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket testing a new deployment system to support space studies was originally scheduled for May 31, but it was subsequently delayed. “Clear skies are required at one of the ground stations to view blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part of the test. These artificial clouds may be seen from New York to North Carolina,” NASA earlier said.
The rocket will eject 10 canisters about the size of a soft drink can between 10 to 20 kms from the rocket’s main payload, and these containers will release the vapour between 4 and 5.5 minutes after launch.These clouds or vapour tracers allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.
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The development of the multi-canister or ampule ejection system will allow scientists to gather information over a much larger area than previously allowed when deploying the vapour just from the main payload.Ground cameras will be stationed at Wallops and in Duck, North Carolina, to view the vapour tracers. “The vapour tracers are formed through the interaction of barium, strontium and cupric-oxide. The tracers will be released at altitudes 96 to 124 miles high and pose absolutely no hazard to residents along the mid-Atlantic coast,” NASA said
Sounding rockets take their name from the nautical term “to sound,” which means to take measurements. The flight of a sounding rocket is short-lived, and has a parabolic trajectory — the shape of a frown. The total flight time for the current mission is expected to be about eight minutes. The payload will land in the Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles from Wallops Island and will not be recovered.