It is little wonder that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has photos of spacecraft, crashed and otherwise, which they have not yet chosen to release to the public. They do tend to release these images on occasion, and sometimes with a splashy headline like the one posted by Fox News — “NASA posts photo of crashed ‘flying saucer from outer space.'”
“A “flying saucer” crash-landed in a Utah desert 14 years ago and now NASA is sharing pictures for the first time… The “flying saucer” isn’t an alien spaceship though — it is the remnants of the robot spaceship Genesis that was designed to study the Sun and launched in 2001,” the Fox News copy reads.
Despite the headline, those hoping for evidence of extraterrestrial life will have to keep waiting. According to NASA, we are tracking about half a million pieces of orbital debris, better known as space junk. Obeying the axiom that what goes up must eventually come down, some of it is going to make its way back to earth — sometimes masquerading as the crash landing of an alien ship.
It makes sense that many of these objects look like what we imagine alien ships might look like. Some shapes, such as saucers, are the best form factors for parts of space craft — past or present. And of course, the objects are alien to the common eye, because we haven’t seen them before.
The general public is not always made aware of the ships being worked on by government contractors for secret missions — or even more common aerospace projects. So when one of them ends up in a corn field, our imaginations take over. This is the case for the most recent crash landing, which was attributed to be part of the Genesis space mission launched in 2001.
— Wikipedia (@Wikipedia) September 8, 2016
Though it ended in a crash landing, the Genesis project was a success. It was able to bring back space particles that have been analyzed by senior scientists, with the Genesis initially having conducted a research mission focused on our Sun. We now know a lot more about the composition of the Sun as a result of the mission. NASA said that the particles offer evidence as to how the solar system was formed, billions of years ago.
UFO culture tends not to be satisfied with these sorts of conventional explanations. Many insist that there is a conspiracy to cover up information about intelligent life and civilizations beyond our own. This has been the case for a long time, across many cultures.
Artsy describes the phenomenon of descriptions of flying objects changing in lock-step with the contemporary culture. A secret division of the British Ministry of Defense — dubbed the “UFO desk” — declassified over 20 years of information, including drawings and descriptions of UFO sightings. They were able to document the changing shape of UFOs that coincide directly with changes in pop culture.
In the case of the Genesis debris, the piece that made it back to Earth just so happened to have conformed with early UFO expectations.