It will likely go down as simply another oddity in Super Bowl history, but the United States government and most of the international community probably don’t find anything about the incident trivial.
According to The Associated Press, a satellite launched into orbit by North Korea late Saturday EST passed over Levi’s Stadium about an hour after the Denver Broncos finished off their 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl ended.
"It passed almost directly overhead Silicon Valley, which is where I am and where the stadium is," tech watcher Martyn Williams said in an email to The Associated Press. "The pass happened at 8:26 p.m., after the game. I would put it down to nothing more than a coincidence, but an interesting one."
The game in Santa Clara, Calif., ended at 7:25 p.m. local time.
According to NORAD (the North American Aerospace Command), which monitors all satellites in orbit, North Korea now has two satellites circling the Earth. Several satellite-tracking organizations say each satellite completes its orbit in 94 minutes.
Much of the international community is alarmed not so much by the satellite itself but rather the rocket used to get it into orbit — a rocket believed to be used by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to test long-range missile capabilities.
While the secretive nation has celebrated the rocket launch and satellite deployment, according to The AP, signals from the new satellite had also yet to be detected. Amateurs and experts alike are doing their best to listen in around the world, but it is unclear exactly what frequency the satellite is supposed to be using, or what it will be transmitting.
"Perhaps if the new one works they’ll actually release Earth images from it," Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told The AP. "We’ll see."
"I have no idea when the end of the Super Bowl was, not a sports fan," McDowell added. "But KMS-4 did pass over that part of California at 8:27 p.m. PST at an altitude of 480 kilometers. I calculate it was 35 miles west and 300 miles up as it passed overhead heading almost due north."