HomeScience and ResearchSpaceRemnant fuel released by Chinese rocket lights up Alaskan skies

Remnant fuel released by Chinese rocket lights up Alaskan skies

Published on

A cloud of frozen fuel released by a Chinese rocket lit up the Alaskan sky last month and caught everyone’s attention. The material spread over an area larger than the apparent size of the full moon and, when hit by the sun’s rays, shone brighter than the aurora borealis in the background.

At around 5:00 am (local time) on March 29, residents of the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, witnessed a ball of bluish light slowly streaking across the sky. 

“It seemed like it had something that was spinning inside it,” resident Leslie Smallwood told local news portal KUAC.

Fortunately, the cameras operated by The Aurora Chaser were armed to record the aurora that was happening that night in near real-time, photographing the sky every 45 seconds. The bluish ball appears in six of these images, suggesting that its journey through the region took at least four minutes.

Remnant fuel released by Chinese rocket lights up Alaskan skies
Remnant fuel released by Chinese rocket lights up Alaskan skies

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, said on his Twitter account that the luminous ball corresponded to the trajectory of a Long March 6 rocket launched on March 29. The rocket would have released remnants of fuel that then froze.

The cloud of material spread out being illuminated by the Sun. 

“This cloud is probably hundreds of miles across; that’s why it looks so big,” McDowell added. Other scientists agreed with the astronomer’s explanation.

McDowell also explained that the ball appeared to be spinning because when the rocket releases the fuel, it goes into a controlled drop to maintain its orbit, rotating as it dumps the rest of the fuel “like a garden hose”.

Image Credit: The Aurora Chasers/Ronn Murray/Marketa Murray

You were reading: Remnant fuel released by Chinese rocket lights up Alaskan skies

Latest articles

Does This Mean We Stopped Being Animal and Started Being Human Due to ‘Copy Paste’ Errors?

A Surprise Finding About Ancestral Genes In Animals Could Make You Rethink The Roles...

The One Lifestyle Choice That Could Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk By More Than 22%

New Research Reveals How To Reduce Stress-related Brain Activity And Improve Heart Health Recent studies...

Aging: This Is What Happens Inside Your Body Right After Exercise

The concept of reversing aging, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, has...

Immune-Boosting Drink that Mimics Fasting to Reduce Fat – Scientists ‘Were Surprised’ By New Findings

It triggers a 'fasting-like' state In a recent study, scientists discovered that the microbes found in...

More like this

Does This Mean We Stopped Being Animal and Started Being Human Due to ‘Copy Paste’ Errors?

A Surprise Finding About Ancestral Genes In Animals Could Make You Rethink The Roles...

The One Lifestyle Choice That Could Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk By More Than 22%

New Research Reveals How To Reduce Stress-related Brain Activity And Improve Heart Health Recent studies...

Aging: This Is What Happens Inside Your Body Right After Exercise

The concept of reversing aging, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, has...