The light show was nothing if not spectacular. Image Credit: NASA
A recent NASA rocket launch produced a strange and rather spectacular light show in the skies over Norway.
The phenomenon, which was sighted on April 5th, resembled a game of Space Invaders with various brightly-lit clusters of shape and color appearing over Norway's northern skies.
As it turned out however, the spectacle had nothing to do with extraterrestrials at all and was in fact a dual rocket launch by NASA designed to study the flow of winds in Earth's upper atmosphere.
Known as Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE), the launch targeted the planet's ionosphere with chemical tracers containing trimethylaluminum and a barium/strontium mixture.
They were released between 71 and 155 miles above the Earth's surface.
"These mixtures create colorful clouds that allow researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles, respectively," NASA wrote.
"By tracking the movement of these colorful clouds via ground-based photography and triangulating their moment-by-moment position in three dimensions, AZURE will provide valuable data on the vertical and horizontal flow of particles in two key regions of the ionosphere."
"Such measurements are critical if we are to truly understand the effects of the mysterious yet beautiful aurora."