posted on Jun, 13 2009 @ 11:02 AM
Just to clear up this sighting, the object seen in the sky over New Mexico and Arizona during the day and night of 6/11/09 was a polyethylene balloon
filled with Helium used for carrying payloads (up to 6000 lbs) for high-altitude research, particularly astrophysics research. How do I know this? I
am part of the team that constructed and launched this particular experiment, which is a cosmic microwave polarization anisotropy experiment named
The balloon was launched at 8:04 AM MDT at the NASA facility called the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, NM. It initially
drifted east but then rose to around 113,000 ft and started traveling west at around 50 knots, passing just north of Phoenix. The flight terminated a
little east of Lake Havasu City at 9:40 PM MDT, at which point the balloon was separated from the payload and the payload parachuted downward,
drifting to the east and landing SE of Yucca, AZ. The last position reported by the tracking instruments report the payload at 41,000 ft and falling
was taken during this descent and is being widely reported at the altitude of the flight, but is incorrect. This last position and the tracking of
the experiment can be seen at towerfts.csbf.nasa.gov...
The balloon was approximately 50-70 ft across during the launch (just a guess from my eyeballing it) and expanding to a diameter of about 300 ft at
the maximum altitude. This give it an angular size of roughly 10' in the sky, roughly 10 times the size of Venus, but 1/3 the size of the moon. The
plastic of the balloon material is highly reflective at large viewing angles (try it with Saran wrap) and was reflecting the light from the Sun, hence
the apparent "self-illumination." This would persist even as the Sun sets on the ground, since the high altitude lets the balloon see the Sun
longer, due to the curvature of the Earth. But at some point the Sun would set on the balloon, and it would appear change to a reddish color and then
As for the military craft going in the general direction of the balloon, I have no idea. We received no assistance from any military personnel in the
launch and recovering of the payload, and I can only explain their appeared involved as a coincidence of timing.
Believe me or not, this is the full explanation of this light in the sky. Its a rather interesting area of scientific research and method for
gathering data, so please investigate this topic further if you're interested.