By Dave Mosher
The Cusp Region EXPeriment (C-REX) in 2014 created brightly colored clouds in space.
- NASA is launching a rocket that will create colorful clouds in space.
- The rocket launch and clouds may be visible as far away as New York City.
- Such clouds will eventually be used to probe two big holes in Earth’s magnetic shield, called cusps.
- The launch will be live-streamed by NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
For the last two weeks, NASA has been waiting for the right moment to launch a rocket that will puff clouds of red and blue-green vapor out into space.
The rocket was originally supposed to launch on May 31, but bad weather and poor visibility have pushed the mission back quite a few times. The next attempt will be made Saturday, June 17, with a hopeful liftoff time between 9:05 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. EDT.
If the skies are clear enough, the sounding rocket carrying the experiment will launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. In that case, many people on the US East Coast — as far north as New York City — may see brightly colored puffs of “tracer vapors” more than 90 miles above Earth.
The psychedelic space clouds should appear low on the southern horizon about 5 minutes after the rocket launch.
“I’ve seen some of these tests where the clouds really filled the sky,” Keith Koehler, a NASA Wallops spokesperson, told Business Insider. “My guess is if you held your fist up, that might be the size of the clouds [close to the launch site].”
The approximate viewing region (weather depending) for NASA’s attempt to create brightly colored clouds in space.
If you won’t be in the area at that time, don’t fret: NASA Wallops will host live video on Ustream, with coverage kicking off around 8:30 p.m. EDT. (A player is embedded at the end of this post.)
NASA’s space clouds, however, aren’t merely for show.
Probing Earth’s leaky atmosphere
The experiment is one of many missions in an international “Grand Challenge” initiative aimed at helping scientists probe two ga