NASA to launch Sounding Rocket to release Radiant Artificial Clouds

NASA will launch the Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket into the space that will release blue-green and red artificial clouds. The launch is expected to support space studies. The launch which was originally scheduled for May 31 eventually got delayed due to poor weather conditions. The ground stations will require clear skies to clearly view blue-green and red artificial clouds that will be produced as part of the test. These artificial clouds will be visible from New York to North Carolina.

Salient Highlights

The rocket will eject vapour canisters between 10 to 20 km from the rocket’s main payload. These canisters will release the vapour after launch. Ground cameras will be stationed to view the vapour tracers. The vapour tracers will be formed due to the  interaction of barium, strontium and cupric-oxide.
The multi-canister or ampule ejection system will facilitate the scientists  to gather information over a much larger area.
The total flight time of the mission will be around 8 minutes.


Sounding rockets derive their name from the nautical term “to sound” that is to take measurements. The sounding rockets are short lived and follows a parabolic trajectory.
The significance of the launch lies in the fact that the vapour traces can be helpful in studying the ionosphere. Since the 1950s, scientists are making use of the sounding rockets to study high-level winds and the Earth’s magnetic field. Since these fields are invisible to the human eye, tracer elements like barium makes their movement visible. It will help in the study of the motion of the charged particles in the ionosphere as well as the motion of the neutral particles in the upper atmosphere.



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