Sunset along the East Coast could prove alarming Saturday, including green and violet “spherical clouds,” according to NASA.
Reports of UFOs are likely, but the source will be a four-stage rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the space agency says.
The launch is scheduled for 8:02 p.m. and will likely “provide a brief light show for residents of the eastern United States and Bermuda,” NASA said in a news release. Clear skies could make it visible as far west as the Mississippi River, officials said.
NASA issued the alert to “reduce emergency calls,” including reports of UFO sightings, a spokesman told McClatchy News.
The release of barium vapor “will form two green-violet clouds that may be visible for about 30 seconds,” according to NASA. “The barium vapor is not harmful to the environment or public.”
“Immediately after release of the vapor, the spherical clouds are a mixture of green and violet, but that phase only lasts about 30 seconds. ... After exposure to sunlight the vapor clouds quickly ionize and take on a violet color.”
As the vapor defuses, “violet clouds stretch out in a slanted orientation and look more like short trails than a cloud,” NASA said
Experts say the vapor should appear 250 miles over the Atlantic, about 10 minutes after the launch. By then, the rocket will be nearly 560 miles from Wallops, just north of Bermuda.
The launch mission is seeking answers to a complicated question: “How are energy and momentum transported between different regions of space that are magnetically connected?”
The mission has “a 40-minute launch window” and could be postponed due to bad weather, officials said.
A similar rocket launch from Wallops in March created a glowing ball off the East Coast, resulting in widespread UFO reports, McClatchy News reported.
The vapor took on various forms as it dissipated, starting as a puffy red and pink cloud then turning into something social media labeled a “cotton candy cloud.” Sightings were reported from Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico, an investigation began to find the source of the cloud.