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Skywatchers spot strange objects north of Kansas City. But what is it?

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Posted at 10:22 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-21 07:21:41-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Strange objects invaded the afternoon sky high above the Northland on Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri.

Was it a bird?

Was it a plane?

Was it Superman?

Or *gulp* the staging of an alien invasion?

Nope, it’s probably just a couple really big balloons — according to Jared Adams, who is the Chiefs of Communications for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA.

“Given the location, it is likely a balloon in a flight test for the … Adaptable Lighter Than Air program,” Adams said Thursday in an email to 41 Action News.

Three balloons were launched Monday from Cumberland, Maryland, as part of the ALTA 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," according to the DARPA 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."

Several calls came in to newsrooms across Kansas City as the balloons were spotted prominently in the sky north of town, but there’s no reason to remain in the basement or keep the tinfoil hats on, folks.

Sorry, UFO buffs.