Flying objects over Kansas City on Thursday night sparked the interest of locals and — for a while — had stumped people looking for answers.
KMBC 9 in Kansas City said on Twitter it had fielded “several calls” regarding two strange orbs floating over Kansas City International Airport.
A few watchers suspected weather balloons. The National Weather Service in Kansas City was deadpan in its response to that notion.
That tweet drew more than 600 replies, many of them people suspecting aliens.
The TV station joined in the speculation and launched a poll to see which would be more intriguing to alien visitors: NFL MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes or some Kansas City barbecue.
In the end, KMBC reporter William Joy appears to have solved the mystery. He tweeted that a spokesperson from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency told him, “given the position, it is likely one of their balloons in test flight.”
According to its website, DARPA’s mission is “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.”
DARPA tweeted on June 18 it had launched three balloons from Maryland as part of its Adaptable Lighter Than Air program.
“The goal of the Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA) program is to develop and demonstrate a high altitude lighter-than-air vehicle capable of wind-borne navigation over extended ranges,” the agency said on its website.
“The balloons can fly at altitudes of more than 75,000 feet. While they do not have independent propulsion, the ALTA vehicle is designed to navigate by changing altitude and thus taking advantage of different wind profiles aloft. A state-of-the-art Winds Aloft Sensor (WAS) is also being developed on the program, which is intended to provide real time stratospheric wind measurements.