Friday, January 20, 2012

Another UFO bites the dust

After another combing through of public NASA footage, UFO enthusiasts thought they caught one.

This article at MSNBC was my first exposure to the case as I'm drawn to any headline with the magic three-letter acronym, UFO.  Regrettably, it had to be this particular woefully written text and I'll get to that in a moment.  Back to the case itself.
Those who support the notion that NASA has been a party to the cover-up of alien life for decades thought that they had a smoking gun.  Footage from the STEREO-B probe, one of a pair of spacecraft parked near the Sun that afford scientists a 360-degree view of the inner solar system, seemed to show something funky.  The video in question showed Venus, Earth, and on the opposite side of the screen...a triangular shaped UFO headed in our direction.

Feel like it wasn't too long ago that we did this?  You're correct.  The Internet was all abuzz about a month ago regarding a "mystery object near Mercury."  Turns out that particular UFO was an image artifact from the telescope that recorded the footage.  So...guess what the UFO on the STEREO-B footage is?

"The answer lies on the exact opposite side of the image," NASA wrote. "At the same time as this strange-looking feature starts being visible, the very bright planet Venus enters the [telescopic camera's] field-of-view from the lower left."

It's a trick of light and optics.  Not a UFO.  Yet that really doesn't bother me.  I expect findings such as these.  Even smart people can be fooled and tricked by their eyes, especially if they happen to be non-astronomers looking at footage from a space telescope.  If I saw that triangular image without having read this, I don't think I'd know what to make of it.  I'd be most cautious before proclaiming it a UFO but it would certainly make me do a Moe Syzlak "Whaa????"  So no, this is the kind of rational explanation I expect.

What I didn't like was the tone of the MSNBC article.  Oh those deucedly pesky UFO conspiracy nuts.  Aren't they silly?  You know what this is an opportunity for?  Ridicule, ridicule, ridicule.  It's the best method we have of keeping the UFO subject out of public debate.  Sigh.
I know that I really shouldn't expect anything different.  In a way, I don't blame them.  The field of UFO studies is replete with all manner of outrageous and quite frankly crazy claims that lack any real kind of concrete evidence to support them.  These wild accounts dilute the true science and investigation going on regarding UFOs, thus causing as many problems as snobby journalism.  But a few wild claims should not negate those with serious evidence behind them.  That would be like saying you hate all rock music just because you heard a song by Journey.

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