Explained: UFOs viewed from the ISS - Squid Boats

DavidB66

Active Member
Several media sources in the last few days have publicised video footage stated to be filmed from the ISS, showing a 'fleet' of bright lights moving steadily across the field of view. The publicity seems to have started with a Reddit post here, which includes an embedded video:

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/UFOs/comments/oixo2s/can_someone_please_explain_what_i_just_saw_on_the/


The date of the posting is said to be '7 days ago', and the poster claims to have 'just' seen the footage in a live feed from the ISS on YouTube. The footage is watermarked with the 'SpaceVids' logo. There is indeed a SpaceVids channel on YT, which does stream live footage from the ISS. Tracking down the original footage in the SpaceVids stream, or in NASA's own platforms, would be a major task which I haven't attempted.

The Reddit discussion has been picked up by mainstream media, including the Sun newspaper in the UK yesterday (June 19).

On Reddit there were at least two suggested explanations (apart from alien craft!): city lights, or boats fishing for squid in the Pacific. The 'squid boat' explanation is most plausible. Boats fishing for squid do use bright lights to attract the squid, and there is other undoubted footage of squid boats which resembles the Reddit video. The apparent movement of the boats would of course be explained by the orbital movement of the ISS itself. UFO investigator/debunker 'UFO of Interest' has endorsed the squid boat explanation.

There is however one point which I haven't seen explained. The Reddit video shows not only bright lights moving across the field of view, but numerous small spots of light, in various colours, which appear static in the field of view. Many of them appear to 'twinkle' like stars viewed from the ground.

If the moving lights are either squid boats or city lights, then the static lights can't be stars, since the camera would be pointed down towards the earth, and there are no stars between the ISS and the earth. Also, stars viewed from the ground 'twinkle' because they are seen through the earth's atmosphere, but the ISS is above (most of) the atmosphere, so stars viewed from the ISS should not 'twinkle'. I conclude that the static lights are not stars.

I also note that on close inspection, there appear to be twinkling lights in front of part of the ISS equipment visible in the top right corner. That would rule out not only stars but satellites, etc, even if these were visible from the ISS (which they seldom are).

Could the spots of light be specks of dust, ice, etc, on the windows of the ISS? That would explain why they would appear static, and even in front of another part of the ISS. But why would they 'twinkle'?

I think the most likely explanation is that someone has deliberately added fake 'twinkling stars' to the background for some reason. It could be done to enhance the 'alien UFO' hypothesis, since the 'UFOs' would then appear against a background of 'space'. Or it might just be some misguided attempt at making the footage appear more exciting.

If the 'stars' have indeed been deliberately added, the question arises 'whodunnit?' Comparison of different versions of the footage, from NASA, SpaceVids, and other sources, as well as the Reddit version', might narrow down the suspects.
 

Ravi

Active Member
The static pixels are noise/hot pixels. The grouped lights are very likely squid boats.
I had a tough time convincing folks on Reddit that the camera was NOT looking at space, but at Earth. "But why do we see stars then?".. Sigh..
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Could the spots of light be specks of dust, ice, etc, on the windows of the ISS? That would explain why they would appear static, and even in front of another part of the ISS. But why would they 'twinkle'?
your reddit link OP says
Article:
The artifacts that look like stars are a result of high gain that the ISS camera uses in low light, combined with radiation from space, from what I understand. This ISS feed doesn’t, in fact, ever face out towards space. It’s a convincing optical illusion though, for sure.
 

DavidB66

Active Member
Thanks for the comments so far.

The observation to be explained is that there are a large number (probably over a hundred) of spots of light in various colours: mainly white, red and blue. They are static within the field of view. They appear to twinkle - that is, they become brighter or darker, or flash on and off, on a short time scale. I haven't found any spots which stay constantly bright throughout the video, not any that disappear permanently. At the right and left edges of the scene there is also a certain amount of fluctuating reddish light.

The fluctuating reddish light does look very much like random noise, but this is not what I had in mind. I don't see how the static points of light can be explained as just noise, e.g. due to cosmic radiation, as this would surely produce a random fluctuation all over the screen, not static points flickering on an off in the same locations.

I don't know much about hot pixels, but I have found some references to flashing, flickering, or blinking hot pixels, so that seems a likely solution. A NASA webpage does say that 'non-moving spots in the image = damaged or bad pixels'.

Thanks again for the comments.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
as this would surely produce a random fluctuation all over the screen,
there is random fluctuation all over the screen. look in all these areas. basically any area that isnt bright white looks like it's moving/fluctuating.
1626798429739.png
 

MclachlanM

Active Member
Just to clear up the city/boat lights bit; the reddit post was made on July the 12th 19:47pm GMT and shows the footage from 9hrs 22mins previously meaning we're looking at the ISS just before 10:25am.

Sure enough around 10:20am the ISS travels over two large groups of boats:
1626798106467.png
The ones on the left of the circle are drifting longline so no bright lights involved there, however the group on the right are indeed fishing for squid.

Of that group there seems to be two clusters of vessels, the top from china and the bottom from japan.
1626798336305.png1626798521510.png

Matches the general formation we see on the ISS footage as well
1626798903570.png
 

TopBunk

New Member
To their credit the Reddit OP did their own research and updated the post. The media do a terrible job of not looking beyond the headline or following up and so this kind of thing festers and gets regurgitated as something inexplicable. It also doesn't help that the OP didn't include the original position in their first post so seems even more mysterious. You only have to watch a few minutes of the NASA feed when the ISS is over a darkend part of the earth for something odd looking to show up. They also include an explainer right next to the feed about non-moving objects appearing as "damaged or bad pixels".

https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/ESRS/HDEV/

Here's a similar screen grab I took of a "whole fleet of 'em" somewhere over (or rather on) the Sea of Japan. (11 July 2021 at 14:11 GMT). It has the exact same damaged redish pixels and other artefacts.

ISSLights.jpg
 
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jarlrmai

Senior Member
Just to clear up the city/boat lights bit; the reddit post was made on July the 12th 19:47pm GMT and shows the footage from 9hrs 22mins previously meaning we're looking at the ISS just before 10:25am.

Sure enough around 10:20am the ISS travels over two large groups of boats:
1626798106467.png
The ones on the left of the circle are drifting longline so no bright lights involved there, however the group on the right are indeed fishing for squid.

Of that group there seems to be two clusters of vessels, the top from china and the bottom from japan.
1626798336305.png1626798521510.png

Matches the general formation we see on the ISS footage as well
1626798903570.png

Great work, where did you get the squid boat location data, seeing a few of these filmed from planes if the OP ever gives the flight number...
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
I had a tough time convincing folks on Reddit that the camera was NOT looking at space, but at Earth. "But why do we see stars then?".. Sigh..

One thing that might make that easier is showing them the same view, with that same distinctive bit of station in it, but during daylight.
Capture.JPG
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
On Reddit there were at least two suggested explanations (apart from alien craft!): city lights, or...
City lights from orbit show the web of streets and such pretty distinctly. iss036e009405.jpg

FWIW, first time I saw the video, I wondered if it might be lights ,home-sites or something on some islands with no street lightin; or oil rigs at sea; or fishing boats -- with the actual squid fleet having been located above I think it's case closed.
 

Amber Robot

Active Member
according to this link the nadir viewing camera is an off the shelf Toshiba IK-HR1S, with a CMOS detector.

it also says:

“The camera exposure and lens settings where fixed and tested on the ground before launch to capture the best visible, high definition video during the daylight portion (~45 minutes) of each space station orbit. The cameras have varying degrees of low-light imagery capability, but none of them were able to capture visible imagery of Earth during orbital night.”

so, it has not been optimized for night imaging and that may explain why there so much noise and bad pixels seen in low light conditions like the video above.
 

TopBunk

New Member

Source: https://twitter.com/admpubmx/status/1418684008406437892


It seems like the idea for this tweet could have been pulled straight from this thread...

Again using the excellent tool @MlachlanM shared (above) you can get the satellite Night Light Detection data for vessels in that exact time period and location (July 11th 2021, Sea of Japan) and overlay them on to an image from the ISS feed. Here i've used my own screen grab from my post above rather than the video in the tweet (it shows the same thing) and cut and pasted a rotated image taken from GFW.org

ISSSquidBoatsGFW.jpg

Here's the same and with no adjustments (the faint yellow rectangles are the Night Light Detection data points)

ISSSquidBoatsGFW_No_adjustment.jpg

Here's the part of the description of the tech used (you'd have to visit the site below to see the whole thing)

NightLightDetection.jpeg

If you want to see the data and play around with it yourself it's here: https://globalfishingwatch.org/map/?timebarVisualisation=heatmap&start=2021-07-11T00:00:00.000Z&end=2021-07-12T00:00:00.000Z&activityCategory=presence&dvIn[0][id]=viirs&dvIn[0][cfg][vis]=true&dvIn[1][id]=fishing-vms&dvIn[1][cfg][dss][0]=~0&dvIn[1][cfg][dss][1]=~1&dvIn[1][cfg][dss][2]=~2&dvIn[1][cfg][dss][3]=~3&dvIn[1][cfg][dss][4]=~4&dvIn[2][id]=fishing-ais&dvIn[2][cfg][vis]=true&dvIn[2][cfg][dss][0]=~0&dvIn[2][cfg][dss][1]=~1&dvIn[2][cfg][dss][2]=~2&dvIn[2][cfg][dss][3]=~3&dvIn[2][cfg][dss][4]=~4&dvIn[3][id]=encounter-events&dvIn[3][cfg][vis]=true&dvIn[4][id]=context-layer-rfmo&dvIn[4][cfg][vis]=true&dvIn[5][id]=context-layer-eez&dvIn[5][cfg][vis]=true&dvIn[6][id]=context-layer-mpa&dvIn[6][cfg][vis]=true&dvIn[7][id]=basemap&dvIn[7][cfg][basemap]=satellite&latitude=39.95506410410007&longitude=135.14367688438486&zoom=8.860638949329182&tk[0]=public-global-fishing-effort:v20201001&tk[1]=public-chile-fishing-effort:v20200331&tk[2]=public-indonesia-fishing-effort:v20200320&tk[3]=public-panama-fishing-effort:v20200331&tk[4]=public-peru-fishing-effort:v20200324
 
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Andy Bantly

New Member
If it were pointed out in space, then we wouldn't see stars. To see stars in space, the camera needs a long exposure. Remember the SpaceX Dragon capsule camera feeds? Couldn't see stars in them. I'm not an expert on any of these things but I think that rules out that the camera was pointed out to space. The perception of stars could be a reflection off of the water.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
If it were pointed out in space, then we wouldn't see stars. To see stars in space, the camera needs a long exposure. Remember the SpaceX Dragon capsule camera feeds? Couldn't see stars in them. I'm not an expert on any of these things but I think that rules out that the camera was pointed out to space. The perception of stars could be a reflection off of the water.

The thing about space is that anything lit by the sun is very bright, in order to see stars you have to expose for them and they are dim, most photos/videos from the ISS are exposed for Earth/Earth lights or sun lit objects near the ISS.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
The most famous (solved) UFO case involving squid boat lights is the Kaikoura Lights.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaikoura_lights

The Kaikoura lights is a name given by the New Zealand media to a series of UFO sightings that occurred in December 1978, over the skies above the Kaikoura mountain ranges in the northeast of New Zealand's South Island. The first sightings were made on 21 December when the crew of a Safe Air Ltd cargo aircraft began observing a series of strange lights around their Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy aircraft, which tracked along with their aircraft for several minutes before disappearing and then reappearing elsewhere, the UFO was very large and had five white flashing lights that were visible on the craft. Some people[who?] say that they could see some little disks drop from the UFO and then disappear. The pilots described some of the lights to be the size of a house and others small but flashing brilliantly. These objects appeared on the air traffic controller radar in Wellington and also on the aircraft's on-board radar.

On 30 December 1978, a television crew from Australia recorded background film for a network show of interviews about the sightings. For many minutes at a time on the flight to Christchurch, unidentified lights were observed by five people on the flight deck, were tracked by Wellington Air Traffic Controllers, and filmed in colour by the television crew. One object reportedly followed the aircraft almost until landing. The cargo plane then took off again with the television crew still on board, heading for Blenheim. When the aircraft reached about 2000 feet, it encountered what appeared to be a large lighted orb[1] which fell into station off the wing tip and tracked along with the cargo aircraft for almost quarter of an hour, while being filmed, watched, tracked on the aircraft radar and described on a tape recording made by the TV film crew.

A spate of sightings followed the initial report and an Air Force Skyhawk was put on stand-by to investigate any positive sightings.[2] They have appeared intermittently since the initial December 1978 sightings, with the most recent sighting being reported during 2015.[3]

Investigation[edit]​

After the sightings, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the police and the Carter Observatory in Wellington cooperated in an investigation, the results of which were lodged in the National Archives in Wellington. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence attributed the sightings to lights from squid boats reflected off clouds, unburnt meteors, or lights from the planet Venus or trains and cars.[4]

Declassified documents from the CIA, taken after the dispatch of a Lockheed P-3 Orion to the area after the sightings, stated that the sightings were "unique among civilian UFO reports because there is a large amount of documentary evidence which includes the recollections of seven witnesses, two tape recordings made during the sightings, the detection of some unusual ground and airplane radar targets, and a 16mm colour movie."[5]

In December 2010, the New Zealand military released a classified report on the incident under the Freedom of Information Act, which concludes the same thing.

Phillp Klass proved beyond reasonable doubt that they were squid boat lights. Bruce Maccabee conceded that the mysterious lights were in the same direction as the squid boat fleet but objected that squid boats position themselves in a standard pattern, and if this were squid boats there is one boat missing from the pattern. Therefore... Aliens!
 

TopBunk

New Member
For those interested the field fo view of the ISS cameras is quite narrow. At an altitude of around 260 miles it's a roughly ~140nm x 75nm picture window of Earth which takes around 40 seconds to pass from frame edge to edge. Since it's not an especially advanced camera set-up there doesn't seem to be any possibility of it picking up details like aircraft (although astronauts with better cameras have done so).
Here's a comparison of Google Earth and the ISS feed when over San Francisco.

ISS_GoogleEarthFieldOfView.jpg
 

TopBunk

New Member
Here's a short screen recording from the ISS feed today. It's roughly somewhere north of Papu New Guinea from earlier today.

Source: https://youtu.be/6-bEHUnzFjY


There's an amorphous lightning flash at the 10s mark (only a single frame as far as I can tell)

ISSThumb.jpg
and another longer more defined one at 35s which is several frames in duration, then it appears the exposure settings on the camera begin to change, I think because the ISS approaching a day-lit part of the globe.

ISSLightningFrames copy.jpg

Just posting because the looking at the zoomed in frames of the second flash reminded me of recent pareidolia when examining heavily artifacted or adjusted digital images and their supposed revelation of alien motherships and other extraordinary things. For example a similar way of thinking might believe the 2nd frame shows a kilometres wide delta wing craft amidst a plasma field above our oceans...or something.

ISSLightningDelta.jpg

A larger version can be viewed here: Source: https://drive.google.com/file/d/13GsC1ef0QEXeFCoxPfRKwGoXwMR8PJtv/view?usp=sharing
 
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