The Vela Incident is also referred as the South Atlantic Flash which is an unidentified double flash of light that was detected on September 22, 1979, near the Prince Edwards Islands off Antarctica, by American Satellite where several of the people are of the belief that it was of nuclear origin.
Around 3.00 am on that day, a US Atomic Energy Detection System satellite recorded a type of pattern of intense flashes in the remote area of the Indian Ocean and a little while later; an unusual fast moving ionospheric disturbance was spotted by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico while simultaneously a distant muffled thud was heard by the US Navy’s undersea Sound Surveillance System.
A `double flash’ though is characteristic of a nuclear weapon test, the signal could have been a spurious electronic signal generated by an aging detector of an old satellite or it could be a meteoroid hitting the Vela satellite. Something explosive and violent could have transpired in the ocean towards the southern area of Africa. On examination from the data gathered by satellite Vela 6911, it strongly indicated that the result of these disturbances was the nuclear device.
Vela Satellite Network Established by United States
Patterns of the flashed was said to have matched with those prior to nuclear detections with none of the phenomenon known that could have produced the same millisecond scale signature. However, the US intelligence agencies were speculating on who could be responsible for the detonation and the US governments were reluctant to acknowledge the same.
The Vela satellite network was established by the United States for specific purpose of monitoring compliance with the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty and though the satellites’ lifespan was only eighteen months, the units proceeded to detect detonations for several years thereafter. Before the incident in September, the orbital surveillance system had been successful in recording forty one atomic detonations, out of which twelve were spotted by Vela satellite 6911.
The Vela satellites though bristling with atom-bomb sensing equipment, have their effective apparatus of each unit’s pair named bhang-meters and these photo diode arrays were designed to detect the one millisecond burst of intense light that was created by nuclear fireball while the subsequent secondary light was caused by the hydrodynamic shockwave of ionized air.
Data Indicated Incident – Bouvet Island
The engineers of sensor were not convinced of its potential and they decided to name it after the Indian variation of cannabis known as `bhang’ though the predictable pattern of the flashed seemed to be an effective method in detecting atomic explosion from the orbit. The technicians were not provided with the exact location of nuclear events due to the satellite’s design together with their distant orbit of 70,000 miles and the sensors could only narrow down the area to 3,000 mile radius.
The data that was available indicated that the Vela incident took place near Bouvet Island which was a frozen part of earth popularly known as the most isolated isle in the world. The island was a home to Norwegian automated weather station and an abandoned lifeboat filled with supplies was found there in 1964, the origin of which was not known. With meteorological automations and enigmatic castaways withstanding, it was presumed that at the time of the energetic event, the island was totally uninhabited.