NASA To Launch Five Rockets In Five Minutes
NASA is planning something spectacular – five launches in five minutes! This was supposed to happen today – Thursday, 22nd March, but has been postponed to Friday, 23rd March. However, the weather might still play spoilsport.
This is being made possible by NASA’s Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX). The rockets will be fired off from the Wallops Flight facility on Wallops Island, Virginia somewhere between midnight EST (or 0400 GMT) and 0506 EST (or 0906 GMT). The five rockets will be carrying some chemical tracers, which will be released in the upper atmosphere. This is meant to study the upper atmosphere air circulation patterns and jet stream flows.
Monitoring Wind Flow Patterns
By spraying trimethy aluminium (TMA) in the upper atmosphere, scientists will be able to perform the studies. TMA will react with water to form a white substance, which will gleam brightly in the sunlight. This can be seen from the ground level as well, so the sunlight and moonlight conditions are crucial for the launch.
There are wind systems higher than the jet streams, and these winds can clock speeds as high as 200 kmph to 300 kmph. The winds occur right at the edge of space and this system is poorly understood. This process will help scientists study the exact patterns created by the jet streams and this higher atmosphere winds. Along with the chemical tracers, the payload will also include instruments capable of measuring the temperature and pressure in those regions.
Watching the launch
The most convenient way to watch the launch is to follow the webcast. NASA will also provide updates. Both webcast and updates appear here: http://sites.wff.nasa.gov/webcast
Local viewers might be interested in actually going to the place for the launch. The center will open at 10 PM EST and is located on VA 175, near Chincoteague Island, Virginia.
There is also an interesting twist involving citizens. There is a history of people mistaking such experiments for alien invasions.
We hope that the flight takes off on time. And that no alien decides to invade Earth during this time.