East Coasters, did you see any weird clouds Saturday night? Some people did as the event caused reports and calls from Boston all the way down the coast to Florida. But you have nothing to fear, the aliens from Independence Day didn’t make them, NASA did.
By using the exhaust particles from the fourth stage of a NASA Black Brant XII suborbital sounding rocking, NASA briefly created noctilucent clouds which are also known as night-shining clouds. These are the highest clouds naturally found on Earth and are normally found around 50 miles above Earth at high latitudes. NASA conducted this test not only to spark a bit of hysteria, but also to study the effect of rocket exhaust in the upper atmosphere. We just think that NASA likes to remind everyone that they are still around.
[photo credit: Space.com & Veres Viktor]