NASA Auroral Winds Experiment Produces Spectacular Results

NASA's AZURE Rocket Launch

Alien Attack Spotted in Night Sky Leaves Norwegians Baffled

Colorful clouds formed by the release of vapors from the two AZURE rockets allow scientists to measure auroral winds.

After two orange dots launched through the air, expanding glowing clouds and colourful lights appeared suddenly - but it was not an alien attack, as some outlets have been suggesting.

Two sounding rockets were blasted off into the sky, from the Andoya Space Center in northern Norway.

As for what exactly caused the manmade aurora, AZURE expelled chemical tracers, trimethylaluminum (TMA) and a barium-strontium mixture, into the ionosphere, the Earth's electrically-charged atmosphere layer located 46 to 621 miles (75 to 1,000 kilometers) above the surface.

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The AZURE mission is created to make measurements of the atmospheric density and temperature with instruments on the rockets and deploying visible gas tracers, trimethyl aluminum (TMA) and a barium/strontium mixture, which ionizes when exposed to sunlight. Understanding the contribution that aurora make to the total amount of energy that enters and leaves Earth's geospace system is one of the major goals of the NASA-funded AZURE (Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment) mission. Those colorful undulating sheets of the aurora borealis are the heavenly product of collisions between Earth's atmosphere and particles from the Sun. According to VOL, a Norwegian news website, the police received several reports about the glowing lights, which admittedly looked like an alien invasion scene straight out of a sci-fi movie.

"It looked like an alien attack", said Michael Theusner, who captured the freaky sight while filming the Northern Lights.

"[When] odd lights and colorful, expanding clouds appeared I first did not have an explanation for", he explained in the description of a YouTube video of the event. Understanding The Area Separating Earth And Outer Space AZURE is part of a larger effort called The Grand Challenge Initiative - Cusp, an global collaboration of scientists that aims to study the ionosphere where the lines of the magnetic field bends and particles from Earth mixes with particles from outer space. NASA is planning another seven rocket launches in Norway over the next two years, so more alien panic could be expected.

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