Science

Funded experiment has Norway locals anxious about 'alien attack'

Funded experiment has Norway locals anxious about 'alien attack'”

This wasn't the only light show NASA created as the space agency also made an incredible light show with chemical compounds that were ejected by the Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE). The colorful clouds definitely look cool, but they're actually providing incredibly valuable data for NASA scientists.

Flabbergasted locals reported having seen something like flying saucers flying in a oddly-shaped pattern as two orange dots appeared in the sky, followed by large expanding glowing clouds of purple and green lights on Saturday night.

As the two AZURE rockets launched - leaving at almost the same time from Norway's Andøya Space Center - photographer Michael Theusner already had his camera trained on the sky, from a location about 112 miles (180 km) to the south of the launch. On the background is a real aurora, a natural show of dancing lights that are products of the collision between the Earth's atmosphere and particles from the sun.

The sounding rockets, launched two minutes apart and reaching an altitude of 320 kilometres (198 miles) took measurements of the atmospheric density and temperature.

"AZURE will focus specifically on measuring the vertical winds in these regions, which create a tumultuous particle soup that re-distributes the energy, momentum and chemical constituents of the atmosphere".

While residents and tourists invoking wild speculations and vivid imaginations might have caused quite a stir, cooler heads prevailed when it was revealed to be the result of a pair of NASA test rockets probing the magnetic mysteries of our upper atmosphere with chemical compounds, following a majestic aurora episode.

"These mixtures create colourful clouds that allow researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles, respectively", explain the NASA team back in 2018. According to the US space agency, the movement of the colorful clouds and their dispersion allowed scientists to observe the flow of particles in two key regions of the atmosphere.

While not as thrilling as a full-scale alien armada in attack mode, they did provide an eerie light show to kick off the Norwegian weekend in style. "[When] unusual lights and colorful, expanding clouds appeared I first did not have an explanation for", said a resident who was able to capture the colorful lights in the sky via Science Alert.



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