At 0458 this morning, NASA successfully launched five sounding rockets from its Wallops Island facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia as part of its ATREX mission. Launched 80 seconds apart, the rockets released trimethyl aluminum, or TMA, into the upper atmosphere—some 60–65 miles up—in order to study winds in the high-level jet stream that exists at those altitudes.
Each rocket released a chemical tracer that created milky, white clouds at the edge of space. Tracking the way the clouds move can help scientists understand the movement of the winds some 65 miles up in the sky, which in turn will help create better models of the electromagnetic regions of space that can damage man-made satellites and disrupt communications systems.
The launches and clouds were reported to be seen from as far south as Wilmington, N.C.; west to Charlestown, W. Va.; and north to Buffalo, N.Y.
One of the photos I was able to capture of the TMA tracer was linked from the front page of SpaceWeather.com and in a Mashable article.