NASA Rocket Test Will Streak Red Over East Coast Tonight

By Breanna Draxler | January 29, 2013 2:23 pm

The rocket. Image courtesy of NASA / Wallops Flight Facility

If you live along the Eastern seaboard, keep an eye on the sky tonight. NASA will be launching a rocket sometime between 5:30 and 6:50 p.m. EST from its flight facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

The rocket is a practice run for two upcoming space observation missions. It will be loaded with two different kinds of lithium canisters. Once ignited, the lithium will vaporize and produce two cloud-like trails that will appear red in the sky. Since they are higher in the atmosphere they will be illuminated by the sun, even though it will no longer be visible from ground level. Assuming a clear night, the vapor trails should be visible to the naked eye along the length of the East Coast, from Canada to Florida, for a short time.

By watching how the vapor trails move, with cameras on the ground and in the air, researchers can compare the two canisters’ trailblazing properties.

If you want to keep an eye on the rocket in real-time, follow it on the Wallops facility’s Facebook or Twitter. Or check out Space.com’s coverage, which includes a handy viewing chart for cities along the Eastern seaboard.

Launch visibility map. The blue line indicates the rocket’s projected course. The circles show where and when the vapor trails should be visible. Image courtesy of NASA / Wallops Flight Facility

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space, Technology, Top Posts
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »