credit: Mohamed Chamseddine

(VIDEO) Wondering what was glowing last night over Newport’s Ocean Drive (and the rest of the Eastern Seaboard)?

Wondering what that glowing cloud was you saw last night over Newport’s Ocean Drive? Apparently it was a NASA launch to study ionization in space just beyond the reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.

A bunch of eagle eyed Newport Buzz readers, including Mohamed Chamseddine, Aiden Regan and CB Barrett sent us photos and both Alex Fitzpatrick and Bethany Kent figured out the answer.

A three-stage suborbital sounding rocket was launched for the Department of Defense from NASA’s launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

After flying to an altitude of several hundred miles and about 500 miles off-shore, the rocket’s payload released a small quantity of vapor – an amount equivalent to about two BBQ grill propane tanks – into the near-vacuum of space. There was no danger to public health or the Earth’s environment from the vapor release, according to NASA.

After the vapor release, colorful clouds were visible over the ocean to residents along the eastern seaboard of the United States as the Sun illuminated the vapor before it diffused harmlessly into space.


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