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Light from test missile contrails streak dawn sky


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SALT LAKE CITY — A white streak seen in the southern sky of Utah early this morning was part of a successful missile test in New Mexico.

Several people emailed and called KSL to report a thick white streak that lit up the horizon around 6:30 a.m. Some thought it was a meteor; others believed it was space debris.

"That's what was really interesting to me: that you could actually see something from that far away," said Micah Workman, Alpine. "It makes you think how large whatever it was that made that actually was."

Monte Marlin, from U.S. Army public affairs, said it actually was a test of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile using a Juno missile fired from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

It was the 14th missile launched from the Fort Wingate, NM area since the mid ‘90s. Depending on the sunlight, it's visible at times. The rising sun backlit the Juno missile's contrail and provided a spectacular morning sight for early risers across the region.

The winds in the various layers of atmosphere skewed the missile contrail, creating a swirly cloud pattern seen in the sky. The missile then returned to base.

Marlin says the missile performed exactly the way it should and when intercepted, all debris fell on Army property. It just put on a light show in the process. People from several western states saw it.

Contributing: Associated Press

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Shara Park

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