He then focused on the two alternative explanations left -- the first, that the objects were intelligently controlled UFO spacecrafts maneuvering away from the Shuttle or ice particles a few feet from the cargo bay.
Kasher elaborated on five separate lines of evidence that "prove" (in his opinion) that the UFOs were not ice particles, as several scientists and UFO skeptics suggested. He then settled for the conclusion that they were UFO spacecrafts.
Mark J. Carlotto, an expert in satellite remote sensing and digital image processing, noted in a published analysis that the footage "provides new insight into a number of unusual events captured by a camera aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1996."
In Carlotto's view the footage shows phenomenon similar to certain ground-based sightings and "might represent the first observation of a new kind of atmospheric phenomenon in space."
Carlotto rejected the ice particle theory, arguing that the movement of the objects does not support it. In the abstract of another paper titled "Digital Video Analysis Of Anomalous Space Objects," Carlotto wrote that analysis of the footage shows it is unlikely that the objects were ice particles disrupted as the shuttle's thrusters fired since the "attitude of the spacecraft does not change."
"[The behavior of the objects] is inconsistent with the thruster firing hypothesis," Carlotto wrote. "For one of the objects known as the 'target,' [we show] that the only hypothesis that is consistent with the data is that the object is at or near the physical horizon. We go on to show that several other objects in the video are clearly moving in circular arcs and are thus likely to be relatively far away from the shuttle... At the end of the event, the shuttle's camera pans down to reveal a number of objects moving below the shuttle. One of the objects appears to have a definite structure consisting of three lobes arranged in a triangular pattern."
"I'm pretty sure the STS-48 video shows ice flakes hit by thruster plumes," he said.
He claimed "grievous technical flaws" in the analysis by Kasher and Carlotto and argued that flawed public assessment of the footage is "based on fundamental misunderstanding of the effects of the novel outer space environmental factors – unearthly motion and external forces, illumination and shadowing, distance and relative speed cues – on how people try to interpret them without appreciating how alien the context really is."
"The major barrier to public authentic assessment of these scenes [is] lack of effective awareness of how unearthly, alien, counter-intuitive and counter-instinctual the new space environment really is," he added.
Regardless of Oberg's views, the preponderance of popular opinion about the STS-48 sightings was expressed by Walia.
"This is pretty bizarre and shocking footage that really has no solid explanation," Walia writes. "If we look at all of the evidence surrounding the UFO phenomenon and the extra-terrestrial hypothesis as a possible explanation, this really does become difficult to dismiss as a conspiracy theory."
Walia quotes a number of "top ranking" scientists who attest to the reality of UFO phenomenon.
"There is abundant evidence that we are being contacted," said former NASA astronaut and Princeton physics professor Brian O'Leary, "and that civilizations have been visiting us for a very long time."
"Intelligent beings from other star systems have been and are visiting our planet Earth," said Theodor Loder, Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire. "They are variously referred to as Visitors, Others, Star People, ETs, etc... They are visiting Earth now; this is not a matter of conjecture or wishful thinking."
[Photo By Chris O'Meara/AP]