NASA Rocket Launch Puts On Colorful Nighttime Light Show

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A NASA rocket launch put on quite the light show last week.

The Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket hit the sky at 4:25 a.m. on June 29 over the Wallops Flight Research Facility in Virginia, reaching an altitude of about 118 miles.

As you can see in the above time-lapse video, when it got there, things got crazy.

According to NASA, the mission here “was a test of a new multi-canister ejection system for deploying vapors in ionosphere or aurora sounding rocket missions.”

“During the 8-minute flight, 10 canisters about the size of a soft drink can were ejected in space, 6 to 12 miles away from the 670-pound main payload.” – NASA

That’s where the psychedelic colors came from – roughly five minutes after launch, the canisters were ejected and out came the multicolored artificial clouds, or vapor tracers, briefly lighting up the early morning sky. As NASA states, they use these to “allow scientists on the ground to visually track particle motions in space.” The colorful vapors could be seen from New York to North Carolina.

As they said, “July 4 fireworks came early” this year.

For more information on the rocket and vapor tracers, head on over to NASA’s official website, or check out the Wallops Flight Research Facility’s Facebook page for other images of the test.

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