NASA Experiment That Included Note Mentioning Trump Causes Alarm in NJ
By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter
August 10, 2018
Reading the news these days, it's understandable people might think the sky was falling. But when employees at a solar panel field in South Brunswick, New Jersey saw a mysterious Styrofoam box attached to a red parachute fall to the ground, it's understandable they might be alarmed. Especially when a note mentioning President Donald Trump is found attached to the mysterious package.
Several employees at the solar field told police that when they approached the device, it was emitting a 'hissing' sound and that there was a handwritten note attached to it:
"NASA Atmospheric Research Instrument NOT A BOMB! If found please call (redacted). If this lands near the President, we at NASA wish him a great round of golf."
"We just had a package — I'm not making this up — parachute onto my site," a caller is heard saying in a recording obtained by NBC New York. "It's a white Styrofoam package. It's making a weird noise."
Police say Officer Salvator Fama was dispatched to a solar panel field located in the Kendall Park section of the township after reports of the white package falling from the sky caused some alarm.
President Trump has been on a working vacation at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is located only 29 miles away from where the package landed.
Police say they dispatched additional officers and a bomb squad to the site, and evacuated the area. Secret Service were also notified, and they investigated the package as well.
Because the note mentioned Trump, authorities decided to take extra precautions in dealing with the mystery box, police said.
As it turned out, the box was part of a NASA experiment that contained a weather balloon instrument designed to measure ozone and falls to the ground after a certain period of time in random locations.
The experiment was part of a project launched from a nearby Rutgers University-owned field as part of the "Long Island Sound Tropoheric Ozone Study."
Six weather balloons were launched on Sunday, police said in a statement. Two balloons have been recovered so far - including the one discovered on Tuesday - and another found in Readington Township, near Trump's Bedminster golf club.
NASA said the note was part of an intern's "misguided attempt to be lighthearted," in a statement provided to News 4 New York.
"The student who appended the note was removed from the project, and we are taking steps to standardize the labeling on these scientific instruments," NASA said.
In a statement, authorities said people don't need to worry if they find any more of the experiments. They added that police have no plans to charge the NASA employee or intern with a crime for releasing the balloon.
The weather researchers were apologetic for any concerns they had raised by the hand written note on the device. There are no charges related to the incident.