In a stunning display this morning, NASA successfully launched all 5 of the rockets for the ATREX experiment. I provided some information about the ATREX mission last week.
ATREX stands for Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment and consisted of 5 sounding rockets all launched within 5 minutes from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coast. The rockets released an environmentally safe chemical tracer into the far edge of the upper atmosphere, at the interface to space, to study a jet-stream that exists at those altitudes. The amazing part of this experiment was the visibility of the tracer clouds: I could see them, clearly, from my house between Washington, DC and Baltimore this morning, and they may have been visible as far west as West Virginia. It isn’t often I get to report firsthand on missions, and to see an atmospheric experiment of that magnitude was thrilling. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t looking at clouds in the normal cloud layer but at a man-made cloud 80 kilometers above the normal cloud layers — a visualization of the edge of space.
As I write this, the launches have just happened
so pictures from the experiment and launches are not available yet and video has become available as I write and NASA is reporting some information via Facebook and Twitter as fast as they can and I am sure some more impressive photos and videos will be available soon.
From all of us at GeekDad, Congratulations to the ATREX team!
Has sharing this with your Geeklings made them a little more interested in rockets? Take the opportunity and build a rocket with them! A simple search on the Make: Projects site for “rocket” yields numerous types of rocket you can build. You can also purchase some great model rocket kits on Amazon! If you’re in the Washington, DC area you can bring your rocket to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on the first Sunday of the month. This monthly event is run by the local National Association or Rocketry group. Get out there and get launching!