Skywatcher alert: NASA rocket 'cloud tracers' may be visible in Grand Strand (Update: pics)

NASA/Wallops
a Flickr slideshow of the NASA's Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX)

Update March 29, 2012: NASA successfully launched five suborbital sounding rockets early Tuesday, March 27th from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream. 

At 4:58 a.m. NASA launched the first of five rockets, launching each rocket 80 seconds apart from one another. 

Arstechnica.com has a full write-up and video of the launch

Did any early-bird (or late, late nighters) see the rockets from here in Myrtle Beach? if so let us know in the comments below.


Update March 15, 2012: The launch was planned for March 14, but was aborted due to a "payload problem" and is now scheduled for Friday, March 16.

Follow the @NASA_Wallops Twitter account for the latest on the launch status.


First report: On a yet-to-be determined clear night between March 14 and April 4, 2012, NASA plans to launch five rockets in five minutes from their coastal Virginia location. 

The rockets will release a chemical to help scientists track them. The white cloud produced by that chemical should be visible for about 20 minutes in the sky from Myrtle Beach to New Hampshire.  At the end of their flight, the rockets will plummet into the Atlantic and rest in peace as artificial reefs. 

229 The red dots over the water show where ATREX will deploy chemical tracers. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASAScientists are using these rockets to learn more about the jet stream winds.  They hope the experiment will help explain how atmospheric disturbances in one part of the globe can be transported to other parts of the globe in a day or two.

To see the full press release, check it out on the Sun News site here or head over to NASA's page for oodles of info.

For more oddities in the Grand Strand night sky, check out our UFO sightings story

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