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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – It is a hot and mostly sunny afternoon across the Tennessee Valley with no rain within hundreds of miles of us.

So what is showing up on radar over Madison County?

More than likely, the answer is chaff from Redstone Arsenal.

Chaff found at Sunlake Apartments on Zierdt Road (Photo: Ryan Wade/ UAH)
Chaff found at Sunlake Apartments on Zierdt Road (Photo: Ryan Wade/ UAH)

This blob has been visible on radar and nearly stationary for several hours, similar to the infamous “mystery blob” that happened back in June 2013.

Chaff consists of small fibers that reflect radar signals and, when dispensed in large quantities from aircraft, form a cloud that temporarily hides the aircraft from radar detection. The two major types of military chaff in use are aluminum foil and aluminum-coated glass fibers.

Chaff is typically used to test military radars.

The particles are not visible to the naked eye while they are airborne, but can easily be seen after they fall to the ground.

U.S. Army Redstone Test Center issued a news release Wednesday afternoon about the chaff:

Threat countermeasure testing conducted at the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center Wednesday, September 21st, resulted in the release of chaff into the atmosphere on the west side of Redstone Arsenal.

While the tests were conducted strictly over the Arsenal and wind speed restrictions were adhered to, climatic factors cannot always be predicted.

The testing conducted today was the only event in this series of testing that includes the use of chaff.