NASA will launch rocket to create multicoloured clouds in space
The psychedelic space clouds may be visible to those in the US East Coast,if the skies are clear Nasa


Nasa has rescheduled the launch of its sounding rocket to 18 June. The launch is now slated to go forward between 9.05 to 9.20pm. This is the space agency's 8 launch attempt for this mission. "Previous scrubs have been due to a variety of issues, such as high winds, clouds, and boats in the hazard area," Nasa said.

Original story

Nasa will launch a sounding rocket to create multicoloured clouds in space. The rocket launch was originally scheduled for 31 May, but bad weather conditions resulted in the launch being pushed to 13 June.

Nasa said the rocket will be launched from the space agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Tuesday night, at around 9pm EDT (14 June 2am GMT). The psychedelic space clouds may be visible to those in the US East Coast, if the skies are clear. Five minutes after Nasa launches the sounding rocket, the space agency's "multi-canister ampoule ejection system" will release "blue-green and red vapour to form artificial clouds".

"These clouds, or vapour tracers, allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space. The clouds may be visible along the mid-Atlantic coastline from New York to North Carolina," Nasa said in a statement.

You can also watch the experiment live via Wallops' live coverage of the event here.

"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]."

Why is Nasa doing this?

The space agency's initiative is not just a kooky space cloud show. Instead, Nasa's experiment is part of an international Grand Challenge initiative aimed at helping scientists better research and understand the two gaping holes currently in the Earth's magnetic shield.

The Earth's protective magnetic shield is vital to sustaining life as it repels harmful radioactive particles from the Sun and protects us against solar storms. Without this invisible protective force-field, Earth may have shared a similar fate to Mars, which lost its magnetic protection billions of years ago.

Scientists are attempting to uncover more information about the Earth's magnetic field. Nasa's experiment is aimed at briefly attempting to make this protective force field visible, by launching tracer vapours such as barium (green), cupric-oxide (blue-green), and strontium (red) into the Earth's atmosphere. A combination of solar wind and these charged particles will help reveal the movements of clouds in the Earth's ionosphere.

Data gathered from the experiment could help scientists discover more information as well as verify information about the Earth's atmosphere.

How will Nasa create psychedelic space clouds?

Unlike similar experiments previously conducted by Nasa, the space agency will make use of 10 lightweight canisters containing the charged particles and launch them from the sides of the rocket. The canisters, which are made out of aluminium and are "about the size of a Coke can", are designed to fly around 10-20 kms before they release the vapours into space.

"These launches have to occur just after sunset or right before sunrise. You need sunlight to hit the vapours and activate them as they're released," Koehler said.

You can watch Nasa's experiment live here.