By Beth Stebner
PUBLISHED: 09:37 EST, 27 March 2012 | UPDATED: 15:58 EST, 27 March 2012
NASA has launched five rockets into space that will measure the jet stream by releasing chemical clouds into the atmosphere.
Blasting off from a facility in Virginia, the rockets began their ascent into space early this morning from NASA’s space centre on Wallops Island.
All five rockets were launched in a five-minute span, deploying 80 seconds apart from one another.
The launches had been delayed several times because of bad weather and wind concerns.
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Each of the five rockets will help scientists study high-altitude jet streams that have been measured at speeds of up to 400km an hour.
Following the launch, each of the five rockets release chemical, milky-white tracers into the jet stream more than 60 miles above the earth.
The tracer – called trimethyl aluminium – forms white clouds that allowed scientists to see the wind patterns.
They are illuminated by the rays of the sun, despite being below local horizons, space.com reported.
According to NASA, residents along the East Coast, as far north as Massachusetts and as far south as North Carolina, reported seeing the streaks in the night sky.
The experiment, officially called the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), will help scientists understand the jet stream.
According to space.com, time-lapse photography from several sites along the East Coast will reveal where the chemical clouds drift, thus giving scientists more knowledge of the jet stream.
The jet stream is in a region of atmosphere with much electrical turbulence as well, which can disrupt radio and satellite signals.
Ahead of the launch, space scientist Miguel Larsen said: ‘This area shows winds much larger than expected.’