Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby neufer » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:35 pm

http://spacelaunchnews.blogspot.com/201 ... -from.html wrote:

Click to play embedded YouTube video.

Minuteman III ICBM launches from Vandenberg, AFB
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Story by Charles Atkeison at 9:44 AM

<<A Minuteman III missile with an unarmed re-entry vehicle was launched on a test flight this morning from Vandenberg, AFB in California. Fog and low visibility combined with a communication link issue delayed the planned night time lift-off into the early dawn giving spectators along the coastline a beautiful view. As the seconds ticked down, the launch closure door which seals the silo slid open and six seconds later, the first stage ignited sending the missile up and arcing west. The sixty-foot tall Intercontinental Ballistic Missile departed it's silo at 6:34:59 a.m. PDT (9:34 a.m. EDT), from launch facility 10 on the northern section of Vandenberg. The solid fueled first stage provides nearly 210,ooo pounds of thrust at launch, and burns for one minute. The solid fueled second stage burns for the next minute. Soaring up into sub-orbital space and westward out over the Pacific Ocean, the Minuteman III's dummy warhead aimed for a trageted splashdown near the Marshall Islands.

"Minuteman III test launches demonstrate our nation's ICBM capability in a very visible way, deterring potential adversaries while reassuring allies," stated mission director Col. David Bliesner. "These launches provide valuable information on the missile's effectiveness in its intended operational environment."

The United States launched the first test flight of a Minuteman III in 1968, and the missile became operational in 1970. The next test flight of a Minuteman III is targeted for July 27.>>
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby kanoa » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:35 pm

I work at CFHT and made the mp4 clip. I can confirm the correct time was 3:40am June 22 as it shows in the timestamp. The timeline of the mp4 might not be perfect because of the way the frames are captured and formatted. In other words, the rate of expansion may have been smooth even though it looks a little jerky in the video. However, the clip playback is at least approximately normal time. The cameras are only slightly more sensitive as a well adjusted human eye so you probably would have seen it if you were standing outside.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby winger » Fri Jun 24, 2011 10:39 pm

Yeah looks like the Minuteman III was the cause. According to this site http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?181538-USAF-fire-Minuteman-III-missile it launched around 3am which puts it in the right time zone.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby PNgaia 20 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:26 am

A big maybe, but could it be an atmospheric effect of the Volcanic eruption in Chile. The date and time seems relevant, just a thought.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Guest » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:33 am

Looks to me like a trans-sonic shock wave that appears to expand as the vehicle, launched form Vandenberg about 5 minutes earlier, approaches the Islands. Note that the center of the circular glow starts at the horizon when the circle is essentially a dot, and climbs as the circle of light expands. In this explanation, the glow would be the result of the shocked excitation of the very tenuous atmosphere the vehicle is passing through, which then relaxes with the emmision of a glow.

Derrick Salmon, CFHT
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Kanoa » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:15 am

If you blink the frames of the mp4 between 03:43:10 and 03:43:16 there's a faint dot at around 10:30 on the ring (if you think of the ring as a clock) that appears to move outward and northward. Perhaps that's the actual vehicle? -Kanoa
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Guest » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:20 am

Evidence is leading to the Minuteman III. From Hawaii, Edwards AFB would be north east. The time frame is right.

To my eye it looks like a shockwave.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby jfife47 » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:23 am

Three things come into mind earthquakes, lensing or prism effect and cloud movement.

Could it possibly be a static discharge from all the earthquake activity that was happening during that time, earthquakes have been known to cause charge floating bubbles of static electricity. Lots of earthquake activity after the Mar 11 earthquake in Japan. I also check and they were several earthquakes on Mar. 22?

Lensing or Prism effect is it possible that the sun rising could created prism effect off or through some towering glass bulding or structure or even caused by the curvature of light possibly over the horizon.

Another obversation in the video you see clouds moving which looks like to be in oppisite directions, higher stratus clouds and at the bottom the lower clouds seems to be moving in the opposite directons. Is it possible this could cause some type of static discharge.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby neufer » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:33 am

Guest wrote:
Looks to me like a trans-sonic shock wave that appears to expand as the vehicle, launched form Vandenberg about 5 minutes earlier, approaches the Islands. Note that the center of the circular glow starts at the horizon when the circle is essentially a dot, and climbs as the circle of light expands. In this explanation, the glow would be the result of the shocked excitation of the very tenuous atmosphere the vehicle is passing through, which then relaxes with the emission of a glow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGM-30_Minuteman wrote:
The Minuteman third stage motor has thrust termination ports on the sides. These ports, when opened by detonation of shaped charges, reduced the chamber pressure so abruptly that the interior flame was blown out. This allowed a precisely timed termination of thrust for targeting accuracy.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Xulxanrov » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:47 am

I concur with neufer's recent post on the Minuteman III, that the cloud is likely from this sudden blow-out of the third-stage motor. Also according to the Wikipedia article on the Minuteman III (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minuteman_ ... LGM-30G.29),

About 180 seconds after launch, 3rd stage thrust terminates.


As a previous post notes, the missile launched at 6:34:59 AM PDT, or 3:34:59 AM Hawaiian time. The above data would put the third-stage burn-out at ~3:37:59. The cloud first becomes visible in the CFHT mp4 at ~3:39:40.

A time of formation of the cloud at ~3:38:00 at third-stage burn-out is broadly consistent with the first appearance and rate of expansion of the cloud in the video. The venting from engine shut-down would have taken place over an extremely short time frame, accounting for the thinness of the shell. This would also likely not be enough time for asymmetries in the vapor distribution to form, resulting in the spherical shape of the shell.

This also accounts for the fact that there is clearly a cloud of vapor from a missile which is propelled by solid fuel (although, again according to Wikipedia, the Minuteman III does have a small liquid-fueled post third-stage motor). Similar phenomena seen previously have been attributed to fuel venting from liquid-fueled rockets or missiles (e.g., http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badas ... ut-norway/), but this isn't really an option for the Minuteman III.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby InvinciBILL » Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:48 am

Having recently been reading up on planetary impacts, this reminds me of what was described as an expanding bubble of atmosphere produced by a high-speed/low density atmospheric impact, as from a small cometary-like object. The objects typically vaporize in atmosphere, but their speed produces a shock wave that "blows a bubble" of atmosphere upwards through the mesosphere, which expands, then "drifts" back to earth in a matter of minutes. The "flash" could be attributed to the expanding shockwave, produced by the ionization front of the shock wave through the atmosphere. For reference, read "Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Plume-forming Collisions on Earth" Mark B.E. Boslough and David A. Crawford.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby JustDrew » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:20 am

In watching the larger view of the event, some of the points of light move like stars while other points of light are stationary. Is that because of the camera's image sensor having bad pixels?
Can some one do a video analysis on the stars to see if the "bubble" is behind them? Wouldn't that be incredible if this thing was so far away?
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Chris Peterson » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:24 am

InvinciBILL wrote:Having recently been reading up on planetary impacts, this reminds me of what was described as an expanding bubble of atmosphere produced by a high-speed/low density atmospheric impact, as from a small cometary-like object. The objects typically vaporize in atmosphere, but their speed produces a shock wave that "blows a bubble" of atmosphere upwards through the mesosphere, which expands, then "drifts" back to earth in a matter of minutes. The "flash" could be attributed to the expanding shockwave, produced by the ionization front of the shock wave through the atmosphere. For reference, read "Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Plume-forming Collisions on Earth" Mark B.E. Boslough and David A. Crawford.

Definitely not. This looks like a satellite venting, or very likely in this case, the venting of a missile (the two are similar, of course). There is no possibility of it being some kind of impact event. That would produce very high energy, which amongst other things would create a brilliant flash of light, seen over all of the Hawaiian islands. It could not have gone unseen. In addition, it would produce seismic records that would be obvious (and this region is widely covered with seismic detectors).
Chris

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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby InvinciBILL » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:32 am

"The objects typically vaporize in atmosphere,".
You read that, right? They DO in fact produce a flash of light, as can be seen by earth-observing satellites. The luminosity is not high, and is produced over a few tenths-of-seconds, as the body incandesces, and disintegrates, usually at 12-15 km altitude. The flash is not the bright strobe of a nuke, say, and a small emough body (say 1-2 m diam) would not impact, producing no seismic signiature. Still say "Definitely not"?
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Chris Peterson » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:43 am

InvinciBILL wrote:"The objects typically vaporize in atmosphere,".
You read that, right? They DO in fact produce a flash of light, as can be seen by earth-observing satellites. The luminosity is not high, and is produced over a few tenths-of-seconds, as the body incandesces, and disintegrates, usually at 12-15 km altitude. The flash is not the bright strobe of a nuke, say, and a small emough body (say 1-2 m diam) would not impact, producing no seismic signiature. Still say "Definitely not"?

An object reaching that altitude and producing an atmospheric phenomenon like this would be somewhere in brightness between a full Moon and the Sun. It would dissipate somewhere between a few tons and a few kilotons TNT equivalent energy. The flash would have been widely witnessed, and it would have produced a seismic signature.

It definitely was not an impact event.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby CoachG » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:00 am

There was a major solar flare (CME) on June 21st 2011. The plasma was hurled almost directly at earth and the front edge of the burst may have interacted with earth's magnetosphere as early as the 22nd.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby louroehm@live.com » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:20 am

I think this is most interesting. From which direction was the light source seen? Could it have been a meteorite or other heavenly object entering the atmosphere and exploding before crashing into the earth.
What was the range to the mystery flash? Perhaps it was much smaller then you may assume, that doesn't seem likely but maybe it was small. Was there any noise associated with the flash? Could it have been like a sonic boom only much larger, reflecting ambiant light in the way a jet plane breaking the sound barrier develops it's sonic boom.
If I have any other ideas, better ones the next time, I'll let you guys know. Is that OK?
I thoroughly enjoy astronomy, although I am not a scientist I think everything in the heavens is incredible. Good luck to you and your team.
Lou Roehm
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Operator » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:00 am

Aloha,

I was the telescope operator when the event occurred. I can clear a few things up.

One of my observers noticed an odd nimbus glowing on our webcam. At first I assumed it was a lens flare, but it was silhouetted behind the Keck domes and part of the mountain, lens flares don't do that. We geared up and went outside to look at it with our night vision goggles. I looked towards the Keck dome and saw nothing. My observer took a look and saw that it was now past Keck (towards the north, it approached from the east). I could see the outline of it, but it was now rather faint. This was over a large flat field (possible location for the new TMT telescope) and my guess was that it was 50+ meters large and perfectly round. Soon after it was gone.

So this was close to the ground, the field it passed over is lower than we are, and it appeared to be even with me (I was looking into the center). The webcams do have a lot of hot pixels, they are used to spot cirrus and fog, so not high end. I tried looking at it with the naked eye, but my eyes were not adjusted, so I could only barely make it out, so it was not glowing. The moon was high in the sky, so the bubble was slightly to the left on the horizon, and the moon was high and to the right. It appeared a lot like fog does through the night vision goggles, and the moon was probably lighting it up in the IR range.

Sounds to me like it was part of the ICBM that launched and the timing and placement was perfect. Had this passed a few miles to the south, we never would have seen it.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby epprecht » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:25 am

I don´t know if the time line in the mp4 is linear, but if it is, something seams a bit strange to my eye in the speed the thing evolves. First the expansion looks ´natural´ to me, then it slows down but then quite suddenly it gains speed again. Could this be a clue?

robert
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby epprecht » Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:49 am

Sorry, did not see the comment of kanoa about the timeline of the mp4. So my observation is wrong. Sorry for the noise.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby HTO » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:08 am

The easiest answer is an explosion or venting outside the atmosphere.
A more complicated one is a bubble of gas or something colliding more-or-less headon with the atmosphere. This may look like and expanding circle. There are a couple of problems with this explaination; I am trying to think of something different.
Pity the centre is not visible at the start, there could have been a flash.
HTO
 

Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Jose Lopes » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:56 am

The ATV 2 freighter transport from ESA was dumped from ISS and burned over the Pacific on June 22.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Kasuha » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:28 pm

To me it looks like some kind of really bright spot setting up at the other side of the sky and shedding its light through some kind of natural lens. I wonder if there was something happening on the other side of the sky at the same time, but the source could have been behind the horizon too.
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby Moosedr00l » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:35 pm

I notice the stars that will eventually be encircled by the sphere actually appear to shift upward BEFORE the bubble actually gets to them. This, to me, indicates that either a lot of air is moving just before the bubble appears or a lot of ice particles are rotating together to produce that effect. Either way, to me this indicates an atmospheric event. I'm wondering if it's possible to determine what would be directly below the anomaly, or, at least what would be along the line of sight from the observer that could produce enough light to cause a purely optical event like that.
Thom
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Re: Mystery Flash on Mauna Kea

Postby MyriamD » Sat Jun 25, 2011 12:56 pm

Hello from rainy Brussels,
Two remarks:
1) the movement of stars in the background is very different between the two videos and seems to me too quick/their distance in the sky too long, during the 8mn in the video with the telecopes on the right
2) two comparable bubbles can be seen in the first video (rather at the end):
http://www.thesuntoday.org/current-obse ... socks-off/
weblink given by APOD some days ago.
MyriamD
 

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