Earlier today (Tuesday, March 27) NASA shot up 5 rockets 60 miles above the Earth to the edge of space to release chemical tracer. The aim is to understand ultra-fast jet stream winds in the atmosphere, but the side benefit is wonderful glowing clouds that wowed skywatchers along the US East Coast:
Tariq Malik of SPACE.com has the story: Link
Astrophotographer Jeff Berkes caught spectacular views of the ATREX clouds from outside Philadelphia, Pa. In his images, the clouds look like a huge, iridescent creature with wings spread across the predawn sky.
"It was a great show," Berkes told SPACE.com in an email.
The $4 million ATREX mission is aimed at better understanding the high-altitude jet stream, which streaks along at altitudes of 60 to 65 miles (97 to 105 km) — much higher up than the jet stream commonly referred to in weather forecasts, which is found just 6 miles (10 km) or so above Earth. Theory suggests that this high-altitude jet stream should blow at only about 50 mph (80 kph), but in truth the average speed is closer to 200 mph and occasionally hits 300 mph, researchers have said.