NASA Rocket, With Cool Name, Scheduled for Launch Wednesday Night
Just days after a rocket took-off from NASA's facility in coastal Virginia comes word of another launch scheduled for tomorrow night -- and this rocket has a cool name.
VIPER (Vlf trans-Ionospheric Propagation Experiment Rocket) will be studying, "radio waves that escape through the Earth’s ionosphere impacting the environment surrounding GPS and geosynchronous satellites, such as those for weather monitoring and communications," according to the space agency.
VIPER is studying very low frequency radio, or VLF, waves that are produced by both natural (e.g. lightning) and artificial means. During the day these waves are trapped or absorbed by the Earth’s ionosphere. At night, however, some of the waves escape through the ionosphere and accelerate electrons in the Van Allen Radiation Belt.
To put it in simpler terms, if you have tried listening to AM radio during a thunderstorm and all you hear it crackle when there's a flash of lightning, that's the kind of thing this mission will be looking into.
If you really want to learn more about the mission, there is an in-depth description on NASA's website.
The mission is scheduled for 9:15 Wednesday night; the launch window is from then until midnight. Live video of the launch will be offered on NASA's website.
Ironically, a rocket that will be studying radio waves caused by lightning, among other things, may be scrubbed as thunderstorms are in the forecast. Should storms be in the area, the back-up launch dates are May 27th and 28th.