“Space fireworks” (Uchuu-hanabi) lit the head of Japanese people this Sunday, glowing as bright as the moon. At least for a few moments, it is.
Part of an experiment to study the atmosphere conducted by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Hokkaido University and Kochi University of Technology, the three luminous orbs were composed of clouds of lithium vapor released into the ionosphere by a rocket. The red glow was caused by sunlight striking the lithium vapor clouds as they disperse. “In the first few seconds after each lithium release, the light should become as large and bright as the moon,” says team member Masayuki Yamamoto, a professor at Kochi University of Technology.
This experiment reminds of several episodes in ufology. For instance, there was the case of a chemical trail left by a rocket launch, believed by some to be the face of Jesus, but debunked by late ufologist James McDonald and which even made into the cover of Science. There countless instances where missile launches were mistaken for UFO cases. The case of Canary Islands is of notice, as much was made of it.
Outside ufology, this experiment also bring to mind the bizarre tests of nuclear weapons in space. Yes, you read that well, both Americans and Russians exploded nuclear devices in space. Though not very widely known, there’s an excellent documentary about these, with exclusive footage of the spectacular and dangerous shows: Nukes in Space: The Rainbow Bombs. You can watch one of the tests, Starfish Prime, here.
[news of the Japan test via Pink Tentacle]
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