Ionospheric Luminescence

East-coasters, watch the skies tonight for high, glowing clouds, as NASA fires rockets carrying combustible chemicals into the sky to study our planet’s ionosphere. (Via Spaceweather.)

Update: Webcast page.

Update 2: Oh, bah. Launch scrubbed till tomorrow night.

I’m reminded, just a bit, of Projects Argus and Starfish, a series of tests in the 1960’s, in which nuclear devices were set off at various levels in the upper atmosphere (including a megaton-yield suborbital device detonated at 400km) to test the possible effects of nuclear detonations at high-altitude and in outer space. These ionospheric chemical-burning tests are far less explosive, of course.