Wednesday May 5 2021

We have an opportunity to watch a rocket launch and upper atmosphere experiment on Friday, if the weather cooperates. By ‘we’,  I mean almost all of the eastern US. By ‘if’, I mean we must consider there is rain in the forecast. 

At 7:58 PM on Friday May 7, NASA has scheduled a Black Bran XII rocket to launch from nearby Wallops Island, VA. There is a 40 minute window, and if the weather or other factor causes a delay, there are back up days through May 16.

If the weather is clear, the rocket will be visible in our region within 1 minute of launch, and within 2 minutes along most of the East coast.

Projected Visibility After Rocket Launch




Yes, we have rain in the forecast on Friday night. So if this is scrubbed, I will keep track of each successive backup date and time.


What is this? Mission KiNETic- X

A study of a problem with space plasmas how energy and momentum are transported between different regions of space that are magnetically connected. 

Similar to Auroras seen on Earth with energy ejected form the sun.

“The electrons in Earth’s space environment and in the solar wind have relatively low energies.  Yet the aurora is generated by very high energy electrons.  What is the energization mechanism?” said Peter Delamere, KiNET-X principal investigator from the University of Alaska – Fairbanks.


What Will Happen:

Two barium vapor clouds emitted from the rocket’s payload will generate a magnetic field perturbation, and electrons are likely to be energized.


The KiNet-X experiment consists of a single rocket launch carrying seven separable payloads.  Diagnostic instrumentation is carried on the main payload and four small subpayloads, while the barium vapor clouds will be released from two additional larger subpayloads.  




This allows for a multiple-point view of the disturbances created by the barium vapor releases.  

The four small subpayloads, nicknamed “Bobs”, each about the size of a two-liter soda bottle, make measurements of the space environment through which the barium-vapor-induced disturbance travels.

The barium vapor, which is not harmful to the environment or public health, is not expected to form highly visible colorful clouds common to past missions from Wallops using vapor tracers.

The vapor will be released approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds to around 10 minutes after launch at about 217-249 miles altitude over the Atlantic Ocean and 540-560 miles downrange from Wallops and just north of Bermuda.

After exposure to sunlight the vapor clouds quickly ionize and take on a violet color.  Immediately after release of the vapor, the spherical clouds are a mixture of green and violet, but that phase only lasts about 30 seconds when the un-ionized component of the cloud has diffused away.

The ionized portion of the cloud becomes tied to the magnetic field lines and diffuses parallel to the field lines but not perpendicular to it.  In the mid-Atlantic region latitudes, the field lines are inclined by about 45 degrees to the horizontal, so the violet clouds stretch out in a slanted orientation and look more like short trails than a cloud.  



Because the motion of the neutral portion of the clouds is not constrained by the magnetic field lines, they spread out more quickly and become too thin to see with the naked eye much sooner than the ionized component.

In general, the human eye does not see violet colors very well in darkness. The KiNET-X clouds will therefore be more difficult for the casual observer to see than some of the previous vapor missions.

Live coverage of the mission will be available on the Wallops IBM video site (previously Ustream) beginning at 7:30 p.m. on launch day.

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will not be open for launch viewing.

Message From

Keith Koehler

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia


Related Posts

Morning Twilight Show Not A UFO March 14

Red Cloud Mystery Solved March 3

UFO or Meteor Captured on Security Cam Sep 22 2020

Meteor Fireball Bolide Video: March 21 2021



Sunshine State Of Mind

I am done with the cold and snow (for the season). I am embracing my wife’s mantra of Sunshine State of Mind.

This was designed by Shannon Berk and we will be wearing it through spring and to the beach.

Double Benefit: Proceeds will be split between our nonprofit Just In Power Kids and the development of my new weather website. That has been scheduled to be ready to launch in May.

Sunshine State Of Mind



14 Local Maryland Pages (and York PA)

We have made a page for Maryland Weather which gives you the current conditions for 14 present area locations.

Local Hourly Forecasts and Local Radar
Central Maryland



Bel Air

Carroll County/Westminster




Ocean City

Dover DE

Southern Maryland

Patuxent River 

Washington DC





National Weather Service Adds Maryland Cecil And Garrett Counties




Please share your thoughts, best weather pics/video, or just keep in touch via social media

Facebook: Justin Berk, Meteorologist

Twitter: @JustinWeather

Instagram: justinweather