Footage captured during NASA's STS-48 Space Shuttle Discovery orbital mission, described as one of "the most bizarre and baffling UFO footage" ever, has sparked renewed debate in the online UFO and alien community.
The STS-48 Space Shuttle Discovery orbiter mission was launched on September 12, 1991 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite as its primary payload. The mission -- with a crew of five astronauts -- conducted experiments and deployed a number of satellites. The mission completed 81 orbits of the Earth, covering 2.2 million miles, before landing at Edwards Air Force Base runway 22 on September 18.
While in orbit at 20:30-20:45 GMT on September 15, 1991 cameras captured multiple bright UFOs that appeared to be flying under intelligent control. Although NASA suggested the UFOS were actually ice, several other researchers rejected the claim.The unsolved mystery of apparently "intelligently controlled" UFOs captured by NASA cameras above the Earth's atmosphere in space remains a subject of controversy 24 years after it was recorded, and the issue once again sparked online controversy earlier in the week after Arjun Walia, with the website Collective Evolution, revisited the old STS-48 footage and reviewed the debate it has generated in academic and research circles over the years.
The footage below, analyzed by Jack Kasher, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Nebraska, shows the multiple UFOs captured by NASA cameras during the STS-48 mission 24 years ago.
The UFOs move in a manner suggestive of intelligent control. One of the UFOs appears to move towards Earth and at about the 33-second mark, where a flash occurs, the UFO changes direction abruptly and zooms off at great speed.UFO hunters claim that since the footage has been seen by millions and thus cannot be denied, NASA scientists have struggled disingenuously to explain away the obvious anomalies by suggesting they were ice particles.
For instance, James Oberg, former NASA employee who worked at the Johnson Space Center on the Space Shuttle program, suggested the objects were simply ice particles moving as the shuttle's thrusters fired and disrupted ice particles.
Kasher, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Nebraska, suggested they could actually be UFOs or more precisely extraterrestrial spacecraft.
Acknowledging several alternative suggestions that have been offered, including the ice particle theory, tiny particles near the camera lens, meteors, satellites and space junk, Kasher wrote that "[The suggestion that the objects were flying spacecraft] is a necessary conclusion if none of the other explanations holds up, since the main object clearly accelerated and moved above the Earth's airglow in the videotape. Thus, it would have been an intelligently directed craft that was above the atmosphere; that is, it would have been a spacecraft."Kasher summarily dismissed the suggestion that the objects were tiny particles close to the camera lens. He pointed out that the camera was focused at infinity, as revealed when the camera panned down to show the side of the cargo bay. He also dismissed the suggestion that the objects were meteors, satellites or space junk, noting that such objects do not change direction the way the UFOs changed direction.
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]