A strange white sphere was seen hovering over Whitby on Friday, and for once RAF Fylingdales admitted the base had something to do with it.
The sphere was actually a weather balloon, launched by students at Caedmon school, as part of its most ambitious science project ever.
“Just about everything we are doing here links into science,” explained science technician Roger Hartley. “The quite frightening thing is working out what to tell the students, because it will blow their minds.
“It’s very exciting for me and I’m probably more excited than the kids.”
Weather balloons were proposed by the American government - which operates RAF Fylingdales - as an explanation for the unidentified craft which landed in Roswell, New Mexico, but it appears this time they were telling the truth.
Dave Pollock is community engagement officer at RAF Fylingdales and he explained the project fits into the STEM scheme taking place across the RAF. This sees the armed forces encouraging students to study practical subjects such as science, engineering, technology and maths.
Mr Pollock said: “We have some of the best scientists in the world in the United Kingdom, but we think through promoting STEM subjects we can help create the next generation. The next Stephen Hawking could even be here at Caedmon.”
At its highest altitude the balloon will soar 16 miles into the atmosphere, before the Teflon balloon pops, and it falls steadily to the ground with the aid of a parachute.
Unsurprisingly, such ambitious projects have made Mr Hartley popular among the students. Mr Hartley said: “I have had comments saying it’s usually cool when they come into my lessons, because something normally goes bang. I’m a science technician so its my job to enthuse the kids.”
The test launch of the weather balloon was the first of three planned flights which are to take place this year
The second will see the weather balloon float across the North York Moors, while it is hoped the third will cross the entire country
On board the weather balloon is a large amount of equipment
There is a video camera which is capable of recording several hours of footage
There is a still photographic camera, which will take an image every minute
There is a temperature sensor - important as the balloon will experience temperatures as low as -40C
There is also a moisture sensor, which will analyse the amount of water vapour in the air at various altitudes
A mobile phone tracking device will allow the school to locate the balloon at any given moment