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NASA rocket launch put on a show in the sky over the mid-Atlantic coast Saturday night

By Theresa Waldrop, CNN

Night owls on the mid-Atlantic coast were treated to a show in the sky overnight as a NASA rocket launched from the Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

The sounding rocket launched at midnight, according to a tweet from the Wallops facility.

The launch was set to visible in coastal regions from North Carolina to southern New York, weather permitting.

Scientists hope the rocket will offer more insight into the source of soft X-rays, which “hurtle towards Earth from elsewhere in our galaxy,” the release said.

Soft X-rays aren’t harmful to people, but they can disturb radio communications and GPS systems, NASA said. They have lower energy than the X-rays used in the medical field.

Scientists think these X-rays come from two sources, said Massimiliano Galeazzi, the principal investigator for the mission from the University of Miami, Florida.

“The first source is located outside our solar system and is generated by remnants of multiple supernovae explosions forming what is now called the Local Hot Bubble region of our galaxy,” Galeazzi said in the release. “The second source is within the solar system and is generated by the solar wind charge exchange.”

The launch was planned for earlier this week but was postponed because of weather conditions.

The facility launches about 25 sounding rockets a year, according to NASA. The rockets get their name from the nautical term “to sound,” meaning to take measurements.

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