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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Conspiracy Theorist's Goldmine: NASA to Launch Rockets Looking Like Missiles, Deploying Chemical Tracers (ATREX)

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Sometime this month, NASA's new high altitude study will blast off.  Five sounding rockets, designed for sub-orbital flight, will release chemical tracers at a high altitude; allowing us to gauge wind speeds, temperature, and pressure heretofore only very loosely estimated.  These are low weight, light payload rockets, and quite cheap in comparison to alternatives.


Video Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


I muse that this might be prime bait for pseudoscience nuts.   

Chemical Tracers!?  "Erm.. Trimethyl Aluminum?"  Rockets, eh?  ...or are they missiles?  They sure look like missiles to me, and seeing is believing! 

The most important trick up a charlatan's sleeve is to pepper their farce with some truth.  This direct quote below is innocuous to the scientifically minded.  If you're looking to confirm an existing alarmist bias however, this might be perceived as a hardcore government slip up.

"The five sounding rockets, known as the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), will launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia releasing a chemical tracer into the air. The chemical -- a substance called trimethyl aluminum -- forms milky, white clouds that allow those on the ground to "see" the winds in space and track them with cameras." 
-NASA [Scott Wiessinger (USRA) / Karen Fox (ASI)] NASA Release HERE

I'm calling it!  PSEUDOSCIENCE INCOMING!!!


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