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Tuesday's Launch Of ATREX To Light Up Night Sky In U.S. East Coast


After several delays in launching ATREX, a 5-rocket mission, NASA has now scheduled the launch for tomorrow from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch window for the mission will be between 2 a.m and 5 a.m., Tuesday, March 27, said the U.S. space agency in a statement.

About 60 to 65 miles above the Earth's surface, winds move at speeds of 200 to 300 miles per hour. The big question has been about what is driving these fast winds and the ATREX mission is supposed to find an answer to that.

The 5-rocket mission called the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment, or ATREX, will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream above the surface of the Earth. The mission aims to study these high-altitude winds and their intimate connection to the complicated electrical current patterns that surround the Earth.

As part the mission, each of the five rockets, which will be launched 80 seconds apart , will release a chemical tracer called trimethyl aluminum into the air. This chemical forms milky, white clouds at altitudes from 50 to 90 miles, and these may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont, according to NASA.

If all goes well as planned, skywatchers along the East Coast should get a special treat - with ATREX mission lighting up the night sky with the brilliant milky white trails.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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