Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That "Mystery Missile"? It's A Contrail **CASE CLOSED**

Got tired of "updating" the other post. Suffice to say, some of the sources I quoted were correct.
Chalk up another one for our crack (smoking!) news teams!
It's A Contrail

Contrail

ContrailScience

From the FAA:
"FAA Spokesman Ian Gregor later released this statement:
“The FAA ran radar replays of a large area west of Los Angeles based on media reports of the location of a possible missile launch around 5pm Monday. The radar replayed did not reveal any fast moving unidentified targets in that area. The FAA also did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area Monday afternoon. Finally the FAA did not approve any commercial space launches around the area Monday.”

And here's a flight path that matches quite closely in time and position.

AFAIC, it's a contrail!

This guy did some analysis, including pix from the same flight 24 hours later, and he nails it.

And FINALLY, a report by James Oberg as posted on the IEEE Spectrum website.
If Oberg says it's a contrail, IT'S A CONTRAIL.
Period.

6 comments:

  1. The extremely bright light at the top of the exhaust plume was? If reflected sunlight, then that part of the contrail should be illuminated also. No?

    So was that part in the sunlight, or not?

    I'm not buying the contrail story; because the 08 November video looks just like missile launches I've seen, and is not consistent with a contrail.

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  2. Bottom line: Need more info.

    But contrail doesn't seem to fit.

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  3. This aircraft:
    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/USA808/history/20101108/1955Z/PHNL/KPHX

    was in the right place, at the right time.
    I've seen (and helped launch) dozens of rockets/missiles. And I've seen aircraft contrails that I could have sworn were something else.
    Go read the thread here:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=23260.0

    These guys know what they're talking about, and don't wear tin-foil hats.

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  4. Yay Honolulu! We never get that on United #35 out of SFO to Maui, probably because it's in the morning and the sun's not in the right position, and #34 coming back lands after 8:00PM so it's too late for scary effects.

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  5. Followed you here from Alvie's Cliffs of Insanity. Thanks for the thorough work.

    As I said there, sunset/sunrise launches are among my favorites to watch because of the beautiful things the sun does to the trail (if it's a solid rocket launch). As the rocket goes up, it goes where the sun is still "out" so the contrail gets bright white, and the rocket accelerates. I didn't see much of either of those the way I viewed that video, so I was leaning toward contrail. The only hesitation is that I've never seen a cruise missile, or something not intended for orbit.

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  6. Thanks, but most of the heavy-lifting was done by the guys at ContrailScience and NASAspaceflight.com
    I just read it all, and posted it here.
    I've been on launch crews for dozens rockets, from air-to-air missiles all the way up to big ones that loft communications satellites, and been involved with aircraft since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I've seen things that didn't look like I thought they should, but had them explained to me by guys that literally wrote the book(s) on a lot of this stuff. If you've never seen some of these things it's pretty easy to get confused, but as the wise man once said, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras"!
    If it HAD been a large missile, or even the booster on a cruise missile, it would have had a *very* distinctive heat signature, and THAT definitely would have been picked up by the DSP satellites.
    And no impact point, or trajectory plot leading anywhere.

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Keep it civil, please....