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View Full Version : Spirit spots UFO. NASA Picture



captain swoop
2004-Mar-18, 04:52 PM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3520636.stm

Hamlet
2004-Mar-18, 05:08 PM
I think it's a probe from Europa. They've seen all the attention we've been paying to Mars and want to see what all the fuss is about. :D

zandperl
2004-Mar-18, 08:20 PM
Shucks, I was hoping to be the "first post". :) Can't wait for the wacko's to catch this one. "NASA finally fesses up to conspiracies"...

Jack Higgins
2004-Mar-18, 09:25 PM
Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea on NASA's part to call this a "UFO" - isn't it pretty obvious there will be some people who will immediately jump on this, thinking that UFO = Alien spacecraft?

Then again... Since it's probably Viking 2...

TheAtomium
2004-Mar-18, 10:26 PM
Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea on NASA's part to call this a "UFO" - isn't it pretty obvious there will be some people who will immediately jump on this, thinking that UFO = Alien spacecraft?

Yeah! I've been checking Enterprise Mission for some laughs...
*refresh*...*refresh*...*refresh*...

dummy
2004-Mar-18, 10:44 PM
Speaking of Enterprise Mission, anyone noticed that RCH has posted a big picture of him receiving his Angstrom medal since BA posted his article?

Amadeus
2004-Mar-18, 11:55 PM
Can anyone here work out how fast this thing as going? It should be possible to work out from the exposure time....

And if we knwo the speed we can work out if it's one of our old space craft since we should know their speed.

Bill Dunaway
2004-Mar-19, 01:40 PM
Has Hoagland commented on this yet? At least he can't claim NASA is covering it up.

SciFi Chick
2004-Mar-19, 02:24 PM
Perhaps it wasn't such a great idea on NASA's part to call this a "UFO" - isn't it pretty obvious there will be some people who will immediately jump on this, thinking that UFO = Alien spacecraft?



I would imagine that the folks at NASA won't let people redefine words and acronyms. UFO means Unidentified Flying Object. If people can't deal with that, fine, but I don't think NASA should edit out a perfectly good acronym for them. :)

TheGalaxyTrio
2004-Mar-19, 04:04 PM
Can anyone here work out how fast this thing as going? It should be possible to work out from the exposure time....

And if we knwo the speed we can work out if it's one of our old space craft since we should know their speed.

Not without the distance to the object.

Look up web pages about the fringe phenomena called "rods". It's obects caught on video or film that appear to be moving at high velocities in the far distance. What they really are is insects or dust moving at sedate velocities close to the camera lens.

Therefore, the object in the Mars photograph is a Martian insect. :o

Wholesale extrapolation is fun, isn't it? :D

TheGalaxyTrio
2004-Mar-19, 04:12 PM
I would imagine that the folks at NASA won't let people redefine words and acronyms. UFO means Unidentified Flying Object. If people can't deal with that, fine, but I don't think NASA should edit out a perfectly good acronym for them. :)

Unfortunately, it's not up to NASA. Words are defined by the society and culture that uses them. UFO has come to mean alien spaceship.

It's the same with hacker. The geek crowd will complain that someone who breaks into systems is a "cracker", but "hacker" has come to have a negative meaning to the society as a whole, so they're out of luck and need a new word. They also forget that cracker already has an even less savory usage.

captain swoop
2004-Mar-19, 04:19 PM
Unfortunately, it's not up to NASA. Words are defined by the society and culture that uses them. UFO has come to mean alien spaceship.



No it means Unidentified Flying Object. What should they can an Unidentified Flying Object/

That some Woowoos take it to mean anAlien Spaceship doesn't change it's meaning or use for NASA.

SciFi Chick
2004-Mar-19, 04:19 PM
I would imagine that the folks at NASA won't let people redefine words and acronyms. UFO means Unidentified Flying Object. If people can't deal with that, fine, but I don't think NASA should edit out a perfectly good acronym for them. :)

Unfortunately, it's not up to NASA. Words are defined by the society and culture that uses them. UFO has come to mean alien spaceship.

It's the same with hacker. The geek crowd will complain that someone who breaks into systems is a "cracker", but "hacker" has come to have a negative meaning to the society as a whole, so they're out of luck and need a new word. They also forget that cracker already has an even less savory usage.

Yes, and gay no longer means happy. So, what should they use to mean unidentified flying object? I mean, is there an alternative that they are just refusing to use?

The Bad Astronomer
2004-Mar-19, 05:43 PM
I got a phone call yesterday about this from a reporter for The National Post, Canada's national newspaper. Unfortunately, the online edition requires a subscription, so I don't know what she wrote. :-?

Archer17
2004-Mar-19, 05:47 PM
Both sides have a point. "UFO" is generally accepted to mean "flying saucer" even though that's not what it means. I think if it's unidentified and flies, it should be called a UFO. I read about this and the Viking 2 hypothesis and it works for me. This is more evidence that those crying "coverup" don't make any sense. Whether others will attach ET to this thing or not, it was released to the public.

cuboctahedron
2004-Mar-19, 06:32 PM
Is it possible to trace the location of the Viking 'left-overs' through other probes currently orbiting Mars, or from Earth?

If so, than it would be possible to confirm that it was the Viking 'left-over', would it not?

TheGalaxyTrio
2004-Mar-20, 02:27 AM
That some Woowoos take it to mean anAlien Spaceship doesn't change it's meaning or use for NASA.

But it isn't just the woowoos- it's mainstream society. UFO has come to mean alien spacecraft in movies, on television, with normal, average people.

TheGalaxyTrio
2004-Mar-20, 02:28 AM
Yes, and gay no longer means happy. So, what should they use to mean unidentified flying object? I mean, is there an alternative that they are just refusing to use?

Bogey.

Archer17
2004-Mar-20, 04:29 AM
bogey? :lol: Hang it up

Anthrage
2004-Mar-20, 04:43 AM
It doesn't matter what term is used - NASA using UFO is not going to cause anyone who is not already inclined to think of it as alien-related to do so, and their not using that term is not going to prevent anyone so inclined from doing so regardless. People will see what they are predisposed to see, either way.

I would submit that it is true that those who do believe in 'UFOs' in other than the strictest terminological sense, may well read into NASA's usage of the term something which serves their belief. However, I do not think we should sacrifice clarity and consistency to prevent such things - sometimes the cure does more damage than the disease.


BA - I'm in Canada, if you let me know what issue the piece appears in, I'll try to pick up a copy and provide a transcript. I don't read that particular paper myself, but would be more than happy to help.


As for the object in question, I have to admit to being somewhat skeptical of the statistical likelihood that Viking would choose that particular moment in time, when the rover was taking that particular 'exposure', to enter the atmosphere. Still, the universe is full of such hard to believe occurrences, so it could easily be the case. I would still like some hard evidence either way, and hopefully no explanation will be promoted simply based on faith. We may not be able to positively identify the object, especially if it was a meteor etc., but we should be able to conclusively rule Viking in or out.

I wonder, whatever it was, would any of the fragments survived entry to impact the surface? If so, would there have been any detectable thermal variations, something one of the orbitors could locate with any of their on-board instruments? I suppose it would be technically possible, but conditions were not such that it able to be done. You'd have a very shot window of opportunity for detection I would think in such a case...

Tom Ames
2004-Mar-20, 05:35 AM
As for the object in question, I have to admit to being somewhat skeptical of the statistical likelihood that Viking would choose that particular moment in time, when the rover was taking that particular 'exposure', to enter the atmosphere.

[...]

I wonder, whatever it was, would any of the fragments survived entry to impact the surface? If so, would there have been any detectable thermal variations, something one of the orbitors could locate with any of their on-board instruments? I suppose it would be technically possible, but conditions were not such that it able to be done. You'd have a very shot window of opportunity for detection I would think in such a case...

Is there any evidence that the object seen entered the atmosphere? I think you're assuming that the streak is analogous to a vapor trail. My guess is that it is simply an effect of the exposure time of the photo. (Satellites appear like this in astrophotos taken from Earth.)

Maksutov
2004-Mar-20, 06:25 AM
What's in the picture is obviously (allow me to repeat it for emphasis) a Weird Orbiting Object - Weird Orbiting Object... 8)

Any other questions? 8-[

Maksutov
2004-Mar-20, 08:00 AM
Since there's not been a high-res version of the "UFO" photo available, TIAAO, I wonder if the streak was caused perhaps by sunlight reflecting off the Viking 2 Orbiter. After all, the four 32 foot across solar panels afford a large area for such reflectivity, and the shifting alignment with the Sun, Orbiter, and Spirit camera may have accounted for the short streak.

Anthrage
2004-Mar-20, 10:15 AM
Tom Ames - A good question, from the reports I'd seen, it was being referred to as if whatever it was had entered the atmosphere. Today I saw an interview where it was suggested that the unsually high brightness was due to a specular light reflection. I suppose that too is something that can be ruled out, if the sun were in a position in the sky relative to the object that such a thing were impossible...but not likely.

Does anyone have any other official references or links to related imagery? I can't seem to find anything but that one image that was released to the press.

EFossa
2004-Mar-20, 11:19 AM
Since there's not been a high-res version of the "UFO" photo available, TIAAO, I wonder if the streak was caused perhaps by sunlight reflecting off the Viking 2 Orbiter. After all, the four 32 foot across solar panels afford a large area for such reflectivity, and the shifting alignment with the Sun, Orbiter, and Spirit camera may have accounted for the short streak.

I think this is a high resolution RAW image of the object:

LINK (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/2/p/063/2P131930937ESF1300P2733L5M1.HTML)

Taken on SOL 63

The published image is in fact a composite made from a navigation camera image and the pancam shot above.

Maksutov
2004-Mar-20, 11:40 AM
Archer17-Bogey, hang it up? Naw, shoot it down!

BTW, some folks don't seem to understand that probability only works for, and can be invoked solely in situations where there have been repeated trials for precisely defined events under the same conditions. Where there have been no repeated trials in uncontrolled situations for a poorly defined event, the probability for such an event is an unknown. If the event happens to take place, the probability for that event, even though it has occurred, remains an unknown, although some (with vested interests) will claim that it is now, of course, approaching 100% probable and entering the realm of the factual.

The preceding is a fundamental building block of pseudoscience. :roll:


[edited for clarity]

Maksutov
2004-Mar-20, 11:58 AM
Since there's not been a high-res version of the "UFO" photo available, TIAAO, I wonder if the streak was caused perhaps by sunlight reflecting off the Viking 2 Orbiter. After all, the four 32 foot across solar panels afford a large area for such reflectivity, and the shifting alignment with the Sun, Orbiter, and Spirit camera may have accounted for the short streak.

I think this is a high resolution RAW image of the object:

LINK (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/2/p/063/2P131930937ESF1300P2733L5M1.HTML)

Taken on SOL 63

The published image is in fact a composite made from a navigation camera image and the pancam shot above.

Thanks for the image. I searched the JPL site for something like this but you had better luck than I. :)

Given the obvious compression artifacts, it's difficult to characterize the streak as some sort of "meteor trail", etc., since a lot of the irregularities in the trace could be the result of compromises in the algorithm.

I wonder if any of the folks at JPL would know what the apparent magnitude of the Viking 2 Orbiter would be as seen from the Spirit site, especially at that particular moment? Or even if it was in that particular location at the time the pictures were taken? 8)

Amadeus
2004-Mar-20, 12:11 PM
Since there's not been a high-res version of the "UFO" photo available, TIAAO, I wonder if the streak was caused perhaps by sunlight reflecting off the Viking 2 Orbiter. After all, the four 32 foot across solar panels afford a large area for such reflectivity, and the shifting alignment with the Sun, Orbiter, and Spirit camera may have accounted for the short streak.

I think this is a high resolution RAW image of the object:

LINK (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/2/p/063/2P131930937ESF1300P2733L5M1.HTML)

Taken on SOL 63

The published image is in fact a composite made from a navigation camera image and the pancam shot above.

That smaller streak at the top of the picture... What is that?

Maksutov
2004-Mar-20, 01:23 PM
Since there's not been a high-res version of the "UFO" photo available, TIAAO, I wonder if the streak was caused perhaps by sunlight reflecting off the Viking 2 Orbiter. After all, the four 32 foot across solar panels afford a large area for such reflectivity, and the shifting alignment with the Sun, Orbiter, and Spirit camera may have accounted for the short streak.

I think this is a high resolution RAW image of the object:

LINK (http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/2/p/063/2P131930937ESF1300P2733L5M1.HTML)

Taken on SOL 63

The published image is in fact a composite made from a navigation camera image and the pancam shot above.

That smaller streak at the top of the picture... What is that?

If the "smaller streak" is the bright spot near the top, closer analysis shows it's two pixels wide and therefore either an instability artifact, or a bright spot, most probably a star.

Tom Ames
2004-Mar-20, 02:03 PM
BTW, some folks don't seem to understand that probability only works for, and can be invoked solely in situations where there have been repeated trials for precisely defined events under the same conditions. Where there have been no repeated trials in uncontrolled situations for a poorly defined event, the probability for such an event is an unknown.

Strictly speaking this is only true for frequentist interpretations of probability.

From a Bayesian perspective, it would be correct to say that the prior probability of seeing the Viking 2 orbiter enter the atmosphere was indeed very very low.

acer401
2004-Mar-20, 02:51 PM
As for the object in question, I have to admit to being somewhat skeptical of the statistical likelihood that Viking would choose that particular moment in time, when the rover was taking that particular 'exposure', to enter the atmosphere
I agree completely...The odds of Viking showing up at this perticular time is beyond belief...I am willing to bet that the streak in question is nothing more than a meteor...I don't understand how anyone would think this is Viking giving the odds of the situation...

Maksutov
2004-Mar-20, 03:18 PM
BTW, some folks don't seem to understand that probability only works for, and can be invoked solely in situations where there have been repeated trials for precisely defined events under the same conditions. Where there have been no repeated trials in uncontrolled situations for a poorly defined event, the probability for such an event is an unknown.

Strictly speaking this is only true for frequentist interpretations of probability.

From a Bayesian perspective, it would be correct to say that the prior probability of seeing the Viking 2 orbiter enter the atmosphere was indeed very very low.

Agreed, given the probability of the final orbit decay coinciding with the random observation. However, the chances of this being unpredicted are even lower than the Bayesian probability. :wink:

AFAIK, the Viking 2 Orbiter is still in Martian orbit.

8)

Tom Ames
2004-Mar-21, 05:13 AM
Again, is anyone saying that the object is necessarily atmospheric?

And how might we find out?

ToSeek
2004-Mar-21, 02:23 PM
As for the object in question, I have to admit to being somewhat skeptical of the statistical likelihood that Viking would choose that particular moment in time, when the rover was taking that particular 'exposure', to enter the atmosphere
I agree completely...The odds of Viking showing up at this perticular time is beyond belief...I am willing to bet that the streak in question is nothing more than a meteor...I don't understand how anyone would think this is Viking giving the odds of the situation...

Who said it was the Viking Orbiter entering the atmosphere? The conjecture I heard at the press conference was just that it was the spacecraft passing overhead.

Irishman
2004-Mar-23, 08:11 PM
No one officially proposing the Viking 2 as the cause is stating that it is the Viking 2 reentering the atmosphere. That would be a very curious coincidence of low probability, but that is NOT what is being stated. The official proposal of Viking 2 is that it is in orbit and what we are seeing is sunlight reflected off the vehicle (probably the flat solar arrays) as it passes overhead in a low sun angle condition.

On Earth, if you look at the sky just around sunrise or sunset, especially when the sun is below the horizon but the sky still has the yellow glow, you will often see bright satellites as they pass in the sunlight while the surface is in shadow. This is caused by the geometry of a sphere. The surface as bent below the horizon and is in shadow, but the sky and objects 200+ miles above the surface can still be in sunlight. Ergo, bright lights in the sky against a darker background and the blue of the sky is muted because there is less direct sunlight being scattered to obscure the orbiting object.

If this is the case, the streak in the image is caused by exposure time vs. orbital velocity of the object. While this would still be a low probability occurrence (Viking 2 passing in view just when the camera is looking up), it would be a far more probable event than Viking 2 reentering the atmosphere at the serendipitous moment. Also consider the possibility of seeing any orbiting object at the serendipitous moment is much higher because there are a number of objects. Limiting yourself to Viking 2 for the calculation isn't fair, because Viking 2 isn't the only possible object to encounter in a random viewing of the sky.

Alternately, what is the probability I will just happen to be looking in the right direction in the night sky to see a specific shooting star? What about any shooting star? In my lifetime, as opposed to on a specific night? This is what is wrong with the arguments about the probability - you are back-defining the incident and then setting the probability for a limited case. That is not proper statistics.

Anthrage
2004-Mar-23, 08:27 PM
Yes, the gambler's fallacy, or the inverse gambler's fallacy. I think it's fair to say, that whether or not the event was unlikely from a probability standpoint, it was unquestionably fortuitous. :)

You mentioned two variables - exposure time and orbital velocity - my questioning is such that the first of the two must be known, but what about the second? If the value is known, then we should be able to rule out Viking. It may not be very definitive, but it is better than nothing...

ToSeek
2005-Jun-01, 07:08 PM
First Shooting Star Seen from Mars (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050601_mars_meteor.html)


NASA's Spirit rover photographed a streak of light that was likely part of a martian meteor shower, scientists announced today.

The picture is the first of a shooting star above Mars. Further, the flash has been traced back to its parent comet. And now astronomers figure they should be able to forecast martian meteor showers.
...
On March 7, 2004, Spirit's panoramic camera photographed a bright streak in the sky. Scientists released the image a few days later, but at the time they were not sure if it was a meteor or the Viking Orbiter 2, still circling Mars after its 1970s mission.