A mysterious “fireball” unidentified flying object was captured by International Space Station cameras this week, sending the internet into a frenzy of speculation concerning everything from its make-up and origin, to its method of propulsion, and its possible purpose. Since objects cannot burn naturally in space (no oxygen), everything from alien spacecraft, to time travelers have been suggested to explain the strange image.
The Daily Mail reported on June 3 that the UFO was detected by an observer watching footage from the NASA space camera live feeds on the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, May 31. A video posted to YouTube by SecureTeam10 (the same account that recently posted the 13-minute video of a oddly-shaped UFO hovering in the clouds over Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio) shows a bright fireball of light burning through space past the ISS. The fireball suddenly appears and seems to flare several times as it obviously changes position relative to the viewer. The image then disappears after a larger flare-up.
Tyler Glockner, who operates the SecureTeam10 channel on YouTube and narrates the video, said he was emailed the fireball image and found it an “amazing piece of ISS footage.” He notes that the ISS is in Earth’s shadow during the time of the video capture, which is why the fireball is so easily discernible in the footage.
Glockner explains that, although the image has been labeled a “fireball,” the term is actually a misnomer because fire in and of itself doesn’t exist in space. He also describes the very brief red lights “shining on the ISS” — in contrast to the image’s otherwise white coloration — before the UFO vanishes. Glockner is self-admittedly amazed by the video.
“My mind is just blown. I mean, what is this thing? It doesn’t make an exit. So it’s definitely coming up behind the ISS and doesn’t show up underneath it, doesn’t come out the other side… And, yeah, I have no idea what this thing is. Something has come up to the ISS in this footage.”
The internet took Glockner’s baton and ran with it, some, like 24×7 International News, reposting the video to YouTube. That particular poster reported that the video offered by SecureTeam10 was met with “commenters [that] clashed over whether the images show an alien craft.”
The ISS live camera feeds are popular hunting grounds for UFO and alien hunters, not to mention the occasional conspiracy theorist. The constant surveillance and oversight by these meticulous sleuths often results in the discovery of unexplained objects passing within the camera’s field. At times, the video feeds will inexplicably cut off, sometimes during moments where objects are detected, leading to some to claim NASA and/or governmental interference to disallow viewing. In April, a NASA spokesperson told ValueWalk magazine that the interruptions occurred periodically and randomly — without human or mechanical interference.
Regardless, the fireball UFO might have a scientific explanation. NASA often discounts or clarifies sightings as camera artifacts or electronic glitches in the recording system or equipment, naturally occurring phenomena or space junk. A cubesat launch had occurred prior to the fireball image appearance and, given that cubesats are deployed with extendable solar panels to help power them, the sudden lighting up and flaring of the video’s fireball could possibly have come from the panels. Of course, UFO hunters readily dismiss the idea, most pointing to the you-can’t-have-fire-in-space-due-to-the-absence-of-oxygen argument, just as they do the most likely scenario (and the general consensus of SecureTeam10 commenters): The brief flaring object is actually a meteor gaining entry into the Earth’s upper atmosphere and quickly burning out.
So what exactly was the space fireball that couldn’t have been a fireball in space? It is difficult to tell. One thing is certain: As long as there’s UFOs to be found, around the ISS and elsewhere, the mystery they generate will always be fertile ground for conspiracy theorists and UFO hunters (and even the interested casual observer) to speculate and cultivate avid discussions about mysterious and unidentified flying objects.
[Image via Shutterstock]