This week, the U.S. military has been investigating the case of what people are calling 'the mystery missile.' A recent video shot by KCBS cameraman Gil Leyvas showed a missile-like object being fired into the sky about 35 miles off the coast of California. The clip, shot from a news helicopter over Los Angeles, stumped the Navy and the Air Force and both claimed the missile isn't theirs. Further, the North American Air Defense Command, the unit that tracks incoming missiles, said it had not been fired by another country.
Right now, there are two camps; those who believe it was a missile and those who think it was a plane. Looking at the size of the trail, some experts believe it has to be a government operation.
"It can't belong to anyone but the military," Marco Caceres, an analyst with aerospace research firm Teal Group, told the LA Times.
Similarly, USC professor of astronautics, Mike Gruntman told the Times that he thinks it’s a missile, but couldn't say for sure.
"It looks like a missile to me," he said. "But I cannot rule out that this is some kind of jet aircraft."
So Caceres believes it was a military exercise gone awry. However, on the other side of things, the Pentagon says its investigation turned up no evidence that a missile was fired in the area at the time of the incident. What's more, the Federal Aviation Authority says it did not approve any commercial space launches in the area. An anonymous source from the FAA also spoke to the LA Times and said that there were commercial planes in the area at the time.
If words from the Pentagon and the FAA aren't enough to calm your nerves about this supposed missile, ContrailScience.com also believes, for a number of reasons, that this is not a missile trail. For one, author Unicinus says the speed of the object is not consistent with that of a missile. For another, the angle, the lighting and the shape of the Earth should be considered when looking at the trail as all of these factors play a part in making an ordinary jet trail look like a much bigger plume from a missile. Lastly, the site has posted pictures proving that this is not the first time we've mistaken a jet trail for a missile.
Below are two pictures of a similar trail that occurred in December last year, and, bottom, a video of yesterday's "missile."
The cherry on the cake is Contrail Science's suggestion that yesterday's trail was made by US Airways flight 808 from Hawaii to Phoenix. Uncinus writes that if people in the vicinity look to the skies at the same time today, about 5-5:30pm, and the weather is right, they should see the same thing.
Did you ever think the contrail was from a missile? Do you still think so? Let us know!
*Images via ContrailScience