Sounding rocket launches Wednesday night from NASA Wallops

Accomack County

A sub-orbital sounding rocket carrying student experiments launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore Thursday, June 20, 2019. (Credit: NASA/Christopher Perry)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A sounding rocket launched Wednesday night from NASA Wallops.

The launch of the VIPER payload, Vlf trans-Ionospheric Propagation Experiment Rocket, on a two-stage Terrier-Improved Malemute rocket’s launch window opened at 9:15 p.m.

The rocket was expected to reach an altitude of about 94 miles before falling into the Atlantic Ocean, NASA says.

The mission will study very low frenquency (VLF) radio waves that escape through the Earth’s ionosphere and impact GPS and geosynchronous satellites.

“At night, the lower layers of the ionosphere are much less dense, and more of the VLF can leak through, propagate along the Earth’s magnetic field lines, and end up interacting with the high energy electrons trapped in the Van Allen Radiation Belts,” said Dr. John Bonnell, the project’s principal investigator from the University of California, Berkeley.

In other space news, the super moon lunar eclipse is also expected Wednesday morning starting at 5:45 a.m. on the East Coast.

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