SCIENTIFIC "FIREWORKS DISPLAY" SET FOR EAST COAST IN JULY

Ron Lee (ronlee@pcisys.net)
Tue, 29 Jun 1999 08:38:36 -0600

Some folks may enjoy this obs. Seems similar to barium releases I saw
in the 70s.

Ron Lee

RELEASE:  99-75
>
>SCIENTIFIC "FIREWORKS DISPLAY" SET FOR EAST COAST IN JULY 
>
>     NASA will set off its own Independence Day fireworks during a 
>series of nighttime rocket launches from July 2 to 20, 1999.  Designed 
>to study "space weather" -- the interaction of the solar wind with the 
>Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere -- the experiments will focus on 
>improving our understanding of electrically charged atoms at the edge of 
>space.
>
>     During the 19-day period, two suborbital rockets will be launched 
>on each of two nights between 9:30 p.m. and 4 a.m. EDT from the NASA 
>Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, 
>VA.
>
>     Two of the experiment packages will release a chemical that will 
>form large glowing clouds in space.  These luminescent milky-white 
>clouds should be visible to the naked eye for several hundred miles from 
>the launch site, encompassing the mid-Atlantic region and portions of 
>the northeastern and southeastern United States. The clouds should be 
>visible for 10 to 20 minutes to the southeast of the launch site at 
>about 70 degrees elevation (approximately three-quarters of the way 
>between the horizon and the point of the sky that appears to be directly 
>above an observer).
>
>     The chemical, trimethylaluminum, will be released in the ionosphere 
>between 43 and 96 miles (69 to 154 kilometers) altitude.  The harmless 
>by-products will disperse across thousands of miles as they diffuse into 
>the upper atmosphere.
>
>     The experiments will take place in a region above the Earth that at 
>first appears to be empty and very quiet. In fact, the Earth's upper 
>atmosphere actually is bustling with activity.  Here the solar wind (a 
>fast-moving stream of particles emanating from the Sun), the Sun's 
>magnetic field and Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere come together. 
>Their interactions can create disturbances just above Earth's lower 
>atmosphere.
>
>     These disturbances can affect radio, television and satellite 
>communications.  By better understanding these interactions in the 
>ionosphere, scientists hope to gain information that will ultimately 
>help improve the reliability of radio and satellite communications.
>
>     The specific aim of these experiments is to explore metallic ion 
>layers (regions of electrically charged particles) that exist about 60 
>miles (100 kilometers) above the Earth and to understand how their 
>interactions with wind in the upper atmosphere create large electric 
>fields and turbulence.  The metallic ion layers are formed by material 
>from meteors that have collided with the Earth's upper atmosphere.
>
>     Each mission will consist of a one-stage Black Brant V rocket and a 
>two-stage Taurus-Orion rocket.  The Black Brant V, which will carry 
>instruments only, will be launched first.  The Taurus-Orion, carrying 
>the chemical package, will be launched approximately three minutes 
>later.
>
>     The status of the launches can be found by calling the Wallops 
>Flight Facility launch status line at (757) 824-2050 or on the Wallops 
>web page at:
>
>                          http://www.wff.nasa.gov
>
>                                    -end-
>
>
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