To the relief of conspiracy theorists, to create red and blue-green colored artificial clouds was postponed on Sunday morning. The clouds were expected to be visible for much of the East Coast and surely would have left many scratching their heads.
It’s not the first time this experiment has been delayed, but it marks the end of the launch window which ran from May 31st through June 6th. Weather forecasts show that the conditions won’t be right in the next two days and the tentative date for launch is now June 11th.
The experiment requires specific weather conditions. On the day of launch, a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket will carry ten canisters that will be deployed about five minutes after liftoff. The canisters will then create vividly colored artificial clouds aka vapor tracers. NASA scientists will then visually track the subsequent particle motions to gain further understanding of the ionosphere. The space agency has ground cameras at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and in Duck, North Carolina. The sky must be clear at one of those locations for researchers to be able to gather data properly. Unfortunately, clouds interfered with the tests this morning, causing the postponement of the launch.
NASA is clear that this mission poses no danger to humans. The canisters would be released about 100 miles above the ground and they contain barium, strontium, and cupric-oxide. But just because the chemicals don’t pose a danger doesn’t mean the plummeting payload doesn’t. The scheduled launch on Saturday was canceled because of boats that were in the area where the payload was estimated to fall.
For anyone who wasn’t aware of this experiment, the postponement is just an opportunity. Assuming that all goes to plan, you’ll be able to watch the launch around 4 AM on June 11th. People on the East Coast “from New York to North Carolina,” will have a chance to see the colorful clouds in person according to NASA. For everyone else, a livestream will be available.