NASA launched a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute sounding rocket early Thursday.
Early July 4th light display with launch this morning from Wallops at 4:25.
About 4 to 6 minutes into takeoff, 10 canisters released barium, strontium and cupric oxide, which interacted with each other to form colorful vapor.
Announcing the successful launch on Twitter this morning, NASA Wallops revealed the clouds could be seen across much of the East Coast, with visibility stretching from Staten Island, NY to Outer Banks, North Carolina.
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During the flight, ten canisters, about the size of a soda can, were deployed into the atmosphere around 6 to 12 miles (9.65 to 19 kilometers) away from the 670-pound (304 kg) primary payload.
The launch had been rescheduled several times before for reasons including high winds, cloud cover and "poor science conditions".
The Terrier-Improved Malemute launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
According to NASA, the facility received almost 2,000 reports of the cloud sightings from New York, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Scientists could use the red and blue-green artificial clouds that formed to track the movement of particles in Earth's ionosphere, which is in its upper atmosphere.
Sounding rockets have been used since the 1950s to study the upper atmosphere and ionosphere as part of scientists' efforts to understand the Earth's near-space environment.