Get ready for a show. NASA’s launching a rocket Monday night that will leave a trail of colorful, fake clouds looming over the East Coast.
The clouds, which will possibly take over skies from New York to California, will also be visible from a live broadcast from NASA starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Skies will be painted glowing blue-green and red colors by a sounding rocket, which will release 10 soda can-sized canisters into the air to form the clouds. The rocket will launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia sometime between 9:04 and 9:19 p.m. Eastern, if all goes as planned, and the flight will last just eight minutes.
Though it’s certainly going to be a memorable show, these clouds aren’t just for fun. Scientists are hoping they will help them see how particles move in space better, which will help expand their understanding of the aurora and ionosphere. It’s an important area of research: The ionosphere is a part of the Earth’s atmosphere that influences communication between satellites and our planet, along with radio communication and radio navigation.
So hurry up and get your lawn chairs while scientists do their work.