'Alien' Lights in Norway Were a NASA Test, Not an Extraterrestrial Visit

Pablo Tucker
April 10, 2019

"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", NASA scientists said.

Traces dropped from a pair of NASA Black Brant XI sounding rockets produced a spectacular light show in Northern Europe.

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.

"These mixtures create colorful clouds that allow researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles, respectively", NASA explained previous year, adding that its tracers would "pose no hazard to residents in the region".


The Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE) mission was conducted on April. 5 from the Andøya Space Center in Norway, with the initial Black Brant XI sounding rocket launching at 6:14 p.m. EDT, and ascending to an altitude of 200 miles. When the two sounding rockets reached an altitude of 320 kilometers, they released visible gases like trimethylaluminum and a barium mixture that ionize when exposed to sunlight.

The clouds were then tracked to measure the winds and flow of particles as the glowing spots dispersed. The missions will analyze the interactions of Earth's magnetic field lines and particles from space that bombard our planet, according to a NASA statement.

Despite not causing any hazard, residents were definitely a little under prepared.

"[When] unusual 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.


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.

This visually striking experiment allowed scientists to observe the behaviour of upper-level winds and the movement of particles in this unfamiliar part of our atmosphere.

AZURE is the first of eight sounding rocket missions launching over the next two years as part of an worldwide collaboration of scientists known as The Grand Challenge Initiative - Cusp.


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