We get to experience a little bit of everything here in South Jersey and thanks to our proximity to a NASA facility along the coast of Virginia, watching a rocket launch is on our list.

According to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, VA, "a mission to explore energy transport in space using a NASA suborbital sounding rocket is scheduled to be conducted the evening of May 7...".

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Launch of the NASA Black Brant XII sounding rocket is scheduled for 7:58 PM Friday; there is a 40-minute launch window.

NASA says,

The mission, called the KiNETic-scale energy and momentum transport eXperiment, or KiNet-X, is designed to study a very fundamental problem in space plasmas, namely, how are energy and momentum transported between different regions of space that are magnetically connected?

To help answer that question, two barium vapor clouds will be emitted from the rocket’s payload. They will generate a magnetic field in which electrons are likely to be energized.

Black Brant XII rocket - Photo: NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility
Black Brant XII rocket - Photo: NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

Scientists say those two vapor clouds will form north of Bermuda about 9 minutes and 30 seconds after launch as part of the mission and may also be visible from eastern United States and Bermuda.

However, unlike the last rocket launch which produced brilliantly-colored clouds that were scene around our area, that is not expected to happen this time.

If it does, they would be violet in color, which is pretty difficult to see at sunset and they would only last for about 30 seconds.

And unlike the previous rocket launch, you can watch this one on NASA's website starting at 7:30 Friday evening.

If you wish to catch the blast-off, look south and watch for a bright looking object shooting into the sky. People in South Jersey should be able to see it within seconds of lift-off.

As of Wednesday morning, Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow says there is a chance of showers Friday evening, which may either obscure the launch or cancel it altogether if the weather is bad in Virginia.

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