NASA launched its Terrier-Improved Malemute Rockets from the coast of Virginia putting on a kaleidoscopic cloud show.
It is a launch that had been long-awaited. Originally scheduled to launch on May 31, 2017, it has constantly been pushed back due to poor weather conditions. Luckily, the weather was perfect on June 29.
The Terrier-Malemute launch vehicle is a high-performance two-stage vehicle used for cargo weighing less than 400 pounds. The Malemute Rockets were intentionally constructed to release three chemicals into the atmosphere to form colorful vapors. The logic of the launch was to help researchers see how particles move in super high altitudes. It is also helping them better comprehend the Earth’s ionosphere, which is the superior region of the planet’s atmosphere ionized by solar and cosmic radiation.
The ionosphere is the reason why radio communication is possible today. It stretches from about 30 miles above the surface to the edge of space at about 600 miles. The ionosphere is the critical link in the sun to Earth connection.
People from all over gathered to appreciate the blue-green and red artificial clouds the rockets produced. Some spectators were alarmed, and others just captivated. NASA did reiterate that the gases released in the atmosphere were not harmful. The elements used to make the rockets are the same found in many fireworks. The only difference is NASA used a lot less of those elements. In its entirety, the flight took eight minutes.
The multicolored display was seen along the Mid-Atlantic coast, from North Carolina to New York and as far west as Charlottesville, Virginia. Over 2,000 reports of the cloud sightings were recorded. People were so fascinated by what was called, “NASA’s early celebration of the 4th of July,” that they wanted to capture the moment. Pictures and videos immediately began to be posted on NASA’s social media platforms.
What is next? NASA is planning to send humans beyond Mars. They are preparing to construct the most advanced rocket and spacecraft ever built. They plan to develop the first-ever mission to identify, apprehend, and alter a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon, where astronauts will analyze it in the 2020s, returning with samples.
Written by Breanna Harris
Edited by C. Milne and J. Smith
CNN: NASA’s colorful clouds light up the sky
WTOP: Packing a Wallop(s): NASA finally launches Va. rocket (Photos)
THE VERGE: A small NASA rocket created a burst of colorful clouds in the night sky
Featured Image Courtesy of Jeff Keyzer’s Flickr Page Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License