NASA is set to launch a rocket that will send a mist of multicolored clouds into space tonight in what will certainly be a both exciting visual interpretation as well as a great advance in science.
The rocket was originally set to launch on May 31st but due to uncertain weather conditions, it was delayed until Monday, June 12th after 9 P. M. EDT. This new technological feat will be launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
If skies are remotely clear residents from the region and as far North as upper New York City are expected to be able to see a display, unlike anything mankind has ever witnessed in the evening sky.
Brightly colored spectacles known as ‘Tracers’ will emit a burst of colored vapors that will appear is if Michelangelo himself took a paintbrush to the clouds 90 miles above the Earth's atmosphere within five minutes of the initial launch process.
Keith Koehler, a NASA Wallops spokesman said, "I've seen some of these tests where the clouds really filled the sky. My guess is if you held your fist up, that might be the size of the clouds close to the launch site.”
If you're unable to be in the area at the time of the launch or within a distance of the viewing you can expect to see it live via NASA's Ustream coverage online.
However amazing the extravaganza may be to those watching it also has historic research significance. The experiment is part of NASA's global “Grand Challenge” initiative intended to assist the world's most brilliant scientists in further analysis of two widening holes in the Earth's protective magnetic shield, known as “cusps”.
In layman's terms, there is a giant protective bubble that surrounds the planet. This layer is not only essential to all life as we know it but participates in shielding the Earth from the Sun’s vicious rays of high energy particles.
This force field around the Earth is what prevents the planet from turning into a barren wasteland like Mars for example, where nearly zero life can habituate the planet. The Magnetic Dymo of Mars has been destroyed by billions of years of the Sun's devastation turning it into a desert like an abomination.
The two known holes in the Earth's shielded layer allow 100 tons of air to exit the Earth per day. The oxygen is essential to life. While research suggests the Earth will not run out of air anytime soon due to quadrillions of tons remaining, it's crucial for the advancement of science and biology, in general, to understand how our planet operates and what we can do to protect it.
By sending the tracer vapors into the Earth's ionosphere, scientists hope to understand how the clouds move through the region. The vapors will be comprised of barium (green), cupric-oxide (blue-green), and strontium (red) to interact with the solar wind. The knowledge gained from the research, in theory, will verify and update computer models based upon of the currently unknown aspects of the Earth's atmosphere.
If successful scientists hope to better grasp the understanding high-altitude phenomena; such as aurora and geomagnetic storms throughout the planet. It could also lead to a conclusion as to why Mars depleted its air while Earth continues to have it's atmosphere.