ATREX EXPERIMENT LIGHTS UP THE NIGHT SKY: Before sunrise on March 27th, sky watchers up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States witnessed a strange apparition. A quintet of milky-white plumes appeared in the night sky, twisting in the winds at the edge of space. "It was pretty unreal and very exciting to see," says eye-witness Jack Fusco, who sends this picture from Seaside Park in New Jersey:
The plumes were chemical tracers (trimethyl aluminum) deposited in the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere by five rockets launched rapid-fire from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The goal of the experiment, named ATREX(Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment), is to study 3D turbulence in the thermosphere.
"We saw the rockets lift off and then slowly release their chemicals, creating trails in the sky," reports Alice B. of Loudoun County, Virginia. "We could also see what I assume were the rocket remnants falling back to Earth."
"Once the chemical tracers from the rockets were released, the view was amazing," adds Bryan Lauber of Frenchtown, NJ. "The tracers were extremely bright and seemed to just fall out of the sky!"
more images: from Jeff Berkes of West Chester, PA; from Mark A. Brown of Carlisle, PA; from Robert T. Smith of Stoneville, NC; from Rich McPeters near Annapolis, Maryland; from Cliff Baldwin of Aquebogue, NY
SOURCE: SPACE WEATHER .COM
This story was updated March 23 at 8:49 p.m. ET.
UPDATE: NASA called off the March 22-23 launch attempt of the five-rocket ATREX mission to create glowing cloads in the U.S. East Coast sky due to bad weather and three wayward boats in the launch range. Next attempt will be no earlier than late Saturday night/early Sunday (March 24-25).
NASA is once again hoping to launch five rockets in just over five minutes — a space barrage that promises to put on a spectacular midnight light show of luminescent vapor trails above the U.S. East Coast — but only if Mother Nature cooperates.
After a series of delays due to bad weather and a technical glitch, NASA is now aiming to launch the five-rocket barrage Friday (March 23) after weather concerns thwarted earlier attempts this week.
5 rockets again poised and awaiting good weather
NASA will launch them early Wednesday on wind-survey mission if conditions are right
5 in 5: 5 Rockets to Launch From Virginia Coast
- March 19, 2012 |
- 8:00 am |
NASA is attempting to launch five rockets in five minutes from the Wallops Flight Facility this month. So far, conditions have not been favorable but the window of opportunity is open until April 3rd. The five rockets will launch into the far reaches of the atmosphere and release tracers that will form white clouds at an altitude of 100 kilometers to investigate the upper atmosphere jet stream. These are not to be confused with the jet stream that helps, or hinders, your flight getting in on time. These winds are literally at the boundary of space and flow at a couple hundred kilometers per hour. From a NASA press release:
“This area shows winds much larger than expected,” says Miguel Larsen, a space scientist at Clemson University who is the principal investigator for these five rockets, known as the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX). “We don’t yet know what we’re going to see, but there is definitely something unusual going on. ATREX will help us understand the big question about what is driving these fast winds.”
The spread of the tracer clouds will be tracked by cameras in North Carolina, on the Outer-Banks, and in New Jersey. NASA points out that the tracer being used is a combination of chemicals that occur naturally in the atmosphere and pose no risk to the general public or environment. The NASA Wallops Flight Facility, part of the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, is located on the Virginia coast on the Delmarva peninsula near the Maryland boarder. It is a site with a long history of launch campaigns including test launches from the Mercury program, countless sounding rockets, and soon, rockets capable of servicing the ISS and even a launch to the Moon with the LADEE mission. The facility is also responsible for NASA sounding rocket launches and balloon payload launches around the world. If you’re in the area and you can keep track of the launch windows, this would be a great burst of launches to see!
Aerial Light Show With 5 Rockets in 5 Minutes
Five rockets are being launched by NASA to do some weather testing.
They are being launched from an interesting and different location, Virginia.
These rockets have chemical tracers that test the high altitude jet stream, which is still a mystery.
To some, this has turned into a conspiracy. Some have turned this into something that makes it seem that these rockets are being launched for the purpose of taking on some meteor or asteroid.
You can judge for yourself what they are being launched for with the information I am providing below.
I'll first give you the person that has turned this into a conspiracy.
Following that, I'll give you the documentation that NASA gives and other supporting information.
As for me, I don't believe that this is a conspiracy.
I think that the rockets are deliberately being launched from these locations because of the testing of the current jet stream activity.
The following is from the video poster:
Uploaded by dutchsinse
Mar 16, 2012
For the record.. these aren't space shuttle launches.. they're supposed to be used for "weather studies"... nonetheless they will produce visible streams of steam/smoke all along the east coast. We're NOT talking bruce willis in a modified space ship going to shoot down an anomalous object... lol
Here is the direct link: NASA launching 5 rockets from VIRGINIA (north east coast USA). http://www.space.com/14939-nasa-5-rocket-launches-saturday-night.html hmm..
ATREX stands for Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment ... Also I see another possible acronym... a T-rex ... as in dinosaurs... Which leads me to being suspicious of ANY 5 rocket launches from a very different location, with a real title incorporation of the words "anomalous and transport and rocket"... Tongue in cheek here .. could it be TRANSPORTING an ANOMALOUS OBJECT with a ROCKET.... ie.. move an asteroid or space object like this past years out of control phobos grunt satellite?
I suppose the picture background on space.com might be influencing my suspicions ...lol.. planetary impact an all.. I will post any launch links that become available on Sunday when this goes down. Cheers, and MUCH LOVE during strange times!
NASA Launching 5 Rockets in 5 Minutes in Monday Night Sky Show
by Mike Wall, SPACE.com Senior Writer
Date: 16 March 2012 Time: 02:44 PM ET
This map shows the projected area where the five ATREX rockets should be visible after launch.
This map of the United States' mid-Atlantic region shows the flight profile of NASA's five ATREX rockets, as well as the projected area where they may be visible after launch on March 14, 2012.
The rockets' chemical tracers, meanwhile, should be visible from South Carolina through much of New England.
UPDATE: NASA has delayed the launch of the five-rocket ATREX mission until Monday night due to unfavorable weather conditions.
This story was updated Sunday, March 18, to reflect the latest launch target.
After a four-day delay, NASA is planning to fire off five rockets in just over five minutes late Monday (March 19) for a mission that, if all goes well, will create glowing clouds to probe mysterious, fast-moving winds at the edge of space.
The five-rocket salvo, which is scheduled to launch Sunday night from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, forms the core of the agency's Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment, or ATREX.
The unmanned rockets will release chemical tracers at about 60 miles (97 kilometers) up, allowing scientists to track high-altitude winds that can top 300 mph (483 kph).
These tracers will generate luminous milky-white clouds that should be visible to folks on the ground from parts of South Carolina up through southern New England, researchers have said.
NASA Launching 5 Rockets to Light Up US East Coast Sky Tonight
by Joe Rao, SPACE.com
Skywatching Columnist Date: 14 March 2012
Time: 12:01 PM ET The red dots over the water show where the five rockets of NASA's ATREX mission will deploy chemical tracers to watch how super-fast winds move some 60 miles up in the atmosphere. Three cameras at different sites will track the cloud tracers. CREDIT: NASA/Larsen A quintuple rocket launch promises to put on a spectacular, but brief, overnight light show of luminescent vapor trails in the skies above the U.S. East Coast tonight, weather permitting.
The sky display may puzzle and amaze some unsuspecting observers, so before you make that phone call to your local news or police, here is why this is happening and when you may see it.
The bright phenomenon will be caused by NASA's Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment(ATREX), which will launch five chemical-bearing suborbital rockets in about five minutes to test the flow of winds and electrical currents at high altitudes.
The rockets will blast off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., on the Atlantic coast during a window that opens tonight at midnight EDT (0400 GMT) and closes at 1:30 a.m. EDT Thursday (0530 GMT).
As part of the mission, the five rockets will each release a chemical tracer that should inscribe brilliant milky white trails in the nighttime sky and allow scientists and the general public to actually "see" high-altitude winds at the edge of space, according to a NASA description.
This map shows the projected area in which the chemical tracers released by the ATREX rockets may be visible to the public.
The clouds formed by the chemical tracers may be visible from the North Carolina/South Carolina border up to southern Vermont and New Hampshire and west to central West Virginia.
Viewing is dependent on lighting in the area in which you are viewing, cloud cover and also the trajectory of the rocket.
Midnight launch lights If all goes well, NASA intends to photograph the trails from three different sites: Wallops Island, southern New Jersey and the outer banks of North Carolina.
Should weather conditions be unfavorable, the firings will be delayed to another night, with alternate launch dates available between March 16 and April 3.
NASA Five Rocket ATREX Mission Moved to March 20
Published: Sunday, Mar. 18, 2012 - 4:23 pm
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., March 18, 2012
NASA has rescheduled the launch of five suborbital sounding rockets from the Wallops Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream to no earlier than Tuesday night, March 20.
The high probability of unacceptable weather is preventing a launch attempt on March 19.
The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.
As part the mission, the five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white clouds that allow scientists and the public to "see" the winds in space.
These clouds may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina, New Hampshire and Vermont. A decision on a March 20 launch attempt will be made Monday afternoon, March 19.
Radio glitch delays five-rocket launch extravaganza
NASA's suborbital barrage postponed until Friday at earliest due to malfunction
A radio system glitch on one of five small rockets aimed at the edge of space has forced NASA to postpone a barrage of launches that promised to dazzle East Coast skywatchers with glowing midnight clouds.
The malfunction was detected as scientists prepared f
or the late-night launch rocket launches, which were scheduled to blast off within about five minutes of one another at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.
The launches were due to go off on Thursday just after midnight ET.
"We scrubbed for tonight, and our next attempt will be no earlier than Friday night, March 16," NASA spokesman Keith Koehler told Space.com from the Wallops launch site on the Atlantic coast.
An internal radio frequency interference problem with one of the payloads on the rockets caused the launch delay, Koehler said. Mission scientists will meet Thursday to discuss the problem as well as study weather reports for Friday's potential launch attempt, he added.
The five rockets form the core of NASA's Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), a $4 million program to study the high-altitude jet stream of wind that blows at speeds of 300 mph (483 kilometers per hour) at heights of between 60 and 65 miles (97 to 105 kilometers) above Earth.
Theories have suggested that these high-altitude winds should only reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80 kilometers per hour).
The edge of space is commonly set at 62 miles (100 kilometers) above Earth.
To study the jet stream mystery, NASA scientists have loaded each ATREX rocket with a chemical tracer known as trimethyl aluminum.
The experiment is designed to spray the material into the jet stream so observers on Earth can map the winds.
That chemical tracer is expected to be seen as glowing, milky white clouds visible to skywatchers along major stretches of the U.S. East Coast, running from southern Vermont and New Hampshire to the border of North and South Carolina.
Koehler said that NASA's next window to launch the ATREX rockets stretches from March 16 to April 3.
If the radio interference issue is solved, but the weather does not cooperate on Friday, the agency will reconvene for a potential weekend liftoff or plan for another launch try next week, he added.
"Next week is supposed to be really nice," Koehler said.