Like a ‘Mass UFO Sighting’: NASA’s Glowing Aurora Research

It wasn't aliens.

Locals in Norway were left stunned after witnessing a strange phenomenon in the sky. Mysterious lights and shapes covered the sky, and people could not explain what they were witnessing.

Was it aliens? Was it a mass UFO sighting? Locals were left with many questions but little answers.

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The truth, however, is far from sensational.

The resulting light show witnessed by locals was the result of two successful rocket launches.

The rockets were observed as two miniature orange lights soaring across the sky. Eventually, the miniature dots expanded into fascinating glowing and colorful clouds that appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

Some News outlets confused the lights for a UFO Sighting.

The rockets were the results of AZURE: the Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment – a NASA-funded experiment whose goal is to understand more about the flow of particles in Earth’s ionosphere. In other words, the rockets will help scientists study the region where our planet’s magnetic field lines bend down into the atmosphere and where space-particles mix with those from the planet.

The rockets, mistaken by many as UFO’s launched into the sky from the Andøya Space Center in northern Norway.

As explained by NASA, the AZURE rockets launched from Norway measured our planet’s atmospheric density and temperature. The rockets also successfully deployed trimethylaluminum tracers and a mixture of barium and strontium, a combination of elements that ionizes when exposed to sunlight.

As explained by NASA, the tracers were released at altitudes 71 to 155 miles (114 to 250 kilometers) high and pose no hazard to residents in the region.

“AZURE will study the flow of particles in the ionosphere, the electrically charged layer of the atmosphere that acts as Earth’s interface to space, focusing specifically on the E and F regions. The E region — so-named by early radio pioneers that discovered the region was electrically charged, and so could reflect radio waves — lies between 56 to 93 miles above Earth’s surface. The F region resides just above it, between 93 to 310 miles altitude.”

Studying the movement of particles inside the aurora borealis will help experts understand how their energy affects our planet’s atmosphere.

“By tracking the movement of these colorful clouds via ground-based photography and triangulating their moment-by-moment position in three dimensions, AZURE will provide valuable data on the vertical and horizontal flow of particles in two key regions of the ionosphere over a range of different altitudes.”

Via
NASA