The Outer Limits

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Two atmospheric oddities last week had both citizens and the military wondering if they were seeing things. Lt. Col. Michael Humm, a Pentagon spokesman, Thursday confirmed that NORAD had scrambled fighter jets to intercept and identify the source of a contrail initially reported at 4 p.m. EST Wednesday moving from the Caribbean to the United States, according to a report by the Associated Press. Airline pilots reported the contrail over Florida and Indiana, but no visual confirmation was ever made of the contrail by a military pilot nor was its source identified by radar. By late last week, NORAD was still reviewing information from its tracking radars in search of some sign to confirm the existence of a vehicle that may have created the contrail. Meanwhile, residents in the Pacific northwest and as far inland as Montana Thursday were treated to a light show originally thought to be a meteor but later found to be the burning carcass of a Russian-made Block DM upper-stage rocket body. Witnesses said the object was similar to a shooting star but slower-moving, with an extremely long tail that appeared to split in two. There were no reports indicating that any part of the rocket survived the conflagration to later impact the earth.