STS 48 footage; "possible UFO"

Jason

Senior Member
I was watching a show a few nights ago on the H2 channel about NASA unexplained files. 99% of the time I always dismiss the claims as being a hoax, man made, or explainable. But this one "file" they had involved STS 48 and it was quite remarkable. One side clearly believes its actual footage of a UFO, and the other side believe it could be ice particles floating outside the shuttle. I personally don't have the faintest clue as to what it could be and both arguments are compelling. So I thought I would present the footage here hoping to get some explanations. The first clip is titled "Abrupt Turn". You can clearly see an object become visible just below the earth's horizon at about 1 minute and 32 seconds. You see a "white" object appear just below the earth's horizon. The object moves from right to left. At about 1 minute and 44/45 seconds you see a flash happen on the lower right side of the screen. Its not a "in your face" kind of flash, but its visible. A split second later you see the object make an abrupt turn going in the opposite direction moving much faster now. At 1 minute and 48/49 seconds you see what appears to be a beam of light shooting from earth upwards in the direction of this object. So I'm curious as to what others think is going on here. In the video you also see a larger white reflective object near the upper left hand side of the earth's horizon that isn't moving. It appears to be stationary, and don't know what that object is neither. Since the earth is rotating you would expect the object to fade from view. In another video related to this "unexplained file", they actually plot the object and all of the other objects moving about here;
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
I don't know if this will satisfy your questions, but James O'berg is pretty knowledgable on manned space subjects.

http://debunker.com/texts/sts48_ufo.html
Lights on the shuttle TV cameras can be many things, and on these scenes in question they are stars, cities, lens spots, and nearby shuttle-generated debris (they are rarely if ever other satellites). Especially with the low-light cameras used for the nighttime mesoscale lightning surveys, the horizon is deceptive because the glowing line is the airglow and the actual edge of the earth is somewhat below it. With poor contrast; this means that stars can cross the glowing "horizon" and still be visible a bit further before actually setting.
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The particles usually (not always) spin, and depending on the axis of spin they may or may not flash, and depending on the speed of spin their flicker may or may not be picked up by the camera CCD scanner.
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When small, drifting debris particles are hit by this RCS plume they are violently accelerated away from the jet. This is what is seen in the infamous "Case 2" sequence, where a flash (the jet firing) is immediately followed by all nearby particles being pushed away from the jet, followed shortly later by a fast moving object (evidently RCS fuel ice) departing from the direction of the jet (the streak is caused by the slow camera speed). If one plotted all the departure lines of the pushed debris and the expelled ice, they would converge at the jet's location.
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Jason

Senior Member
I don't know if this will satisfy your questions, but James O'berg is pretty knowledgable on manned space subjects.

http://debunker.com/texts/sts48_ufo.html
Lights on the shuttle TV cameras can be many things, and on these scenes in question they are stars, cities, lens spots, and nearby shuttle-generated debris (they are rarely if ever other satellites). Especially with the low-light cameras used for the nighttime mesoscale lightning surveys, the horizon is deceptive because the glowing line is the airglow and the actual edge of the earth is somewhat below it. With poor contrast; this means that stars can cross the glowing "horizon" and still be visible a bit further before actually setting.
...
The particles usually (not always) spin, and depending on the axis of spin they may or may not flash, and depending on the speed of spin their flicker may or may not be picked up by the camera CCD scanner.
...
When small, drifting debris particles are hit by this RCS plume they are violently accelerated away from the jet. This is what is seen in the infamous "Case 2" sequence, where a flash (the jet firing) is immediately followed by all nearby particles being pushed away from the jet, followed shortly later by a fast moving object (evidently RCS fuel ice) departing from the direction of the jet (the streak is caused by the slow camera speed). If one plotted all the departure lines of the pushed debris and the expelled ice, they would converge at the jet's location.
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The only problem with this observation is that there is only 1 particle, the one in the frame that is moving from right to left. This particle is the one that abruptly changes its direction. No other particle is in the frame when this "sequence" happens. Also if the space shuttle was performing a RCS wouldn't or shouldn't we have seen the shuttle's position change. When the RCS plume occurs, the space shuttles stays the course, there isn't any movement out the window in any direction which would imply a course correction. Then we see something reflective move very fast away from earth into space, but I do agree that it's hard to get a fix in space as to where the actual horizon begins.

Check out this video of STS 48 as well. Its only 3 minutes long and I started when you start to see these reflective objects whiz by the space shuttle. They are moving so fast relative to the shuttle itself, and the camera actually moves to try and focus in on some of the objects. I don't know if the camera is hand held or automatice...
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Well then there's this very detailed analysis that concludes they're definitely anomalous.
http://www.nicap.org/sts48.htm

6. SUMMARY

Our analysis of the STS-48 video shows that the "ice particle/attitude thruster firing" hypothesis is not consistent with the observed behavior of the objects in question. The firing of an attitude control thruster might have altered the trajectories of particles close to the shuttle but would also have altered the apparent motion of the background (i.e., the earth's limb and the stars). Yet, no such change was measured in the video data.

We found that one of the objects (M1) emerges from point just below the horizon line. Rather than suddenly appearing, its brightness increases gradually over ~ 1 second interval. It moves in a path parallel to and just below the horizon line as its brightness remains relatively constant. The object then slows down, changes direction, and accelerates just after a flash is observed. It moves at a constant velocity across the earth's limb, atmosphere, and airglow layer decreasing in brightness by at least a factor of 1/2 over a 7 second interval. The decrease in brightness implies that the distance from observer increases by at least factor of ඲ over the same interval.

We hypothesize that M1 emerges from up out of a cloud layer at or near the physical horizon, moves parallel to the horizon, changes direction, and rapidly moves away from the observer. If this hypothesis is correct then M1 must be very luminous to be detectable at such a great distance. Assuming a distance of 2700 km from the shuttle, the apparent magnitude of M1 (between 2 and 3) implies an intrinsic luminosity of between 2 x 10 5 and 5 x 10 5 watts.

Time exposures of three other objects M4, M6, and M7 suggest that, on the basis of the curvature of their arcs, they are far from the shuttle, moving around the earth, but not in earth orbit. If M7 is at about the same altitude as the shuttle, its estimated velocity is on the order of 35 km/sec. This is about the same speed computed for M1 as it moves along the horizon assuming that it actually is at the physical horizon.

We believe that the measurements and analyses contained in this paper establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the objects captured in this video are not orbiter-generated debris (e.g., ice particles) disturbed by a thruster firing. However, it is beyond the scope of this paper to speculate on what they might be. It can only be said that they are not meteorites flashing in the atmosphere, as it has been claimed for flashes seen from the shuttles, because the trajectories, velocities, and sudden changes in direction of certain objects studied in this paper are not compatible with this hypothesis.


An attempt should be made in future missions to detect and record similar events. In particular when not otherwise in use, the fore and aft cameras in the shuttle's payload bay should be monitored so that they can be positioned to allow stereo imagery of similar phenomena to be acquired and analyzed.
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
The firing of an attitude control thruster might have altered the trajectories of particles close to the shuttle but would also have altered the apparent motion of the background (i.e., the earth's limb and the stars). Yet, no such change was measured in the video data.
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O'berg addresses this claim on his site and in this ATS thread.



67 Q: If the dots change motion due to thruster firing, how come the background earth/stars don’t shift as the shuttle’s orientation responds to the rotational impulse? Many observers confidently claim that the absence of any perceived motion is proof positive that no thruster could have fired.

A: This is a very common argument but it fails because nobody has actually ‘run the numbers’ on how MUCH the scene should shift due to a thruster firing. While it’s true that the shuttle can turn on its thrusters to achieve a rotation rate of up to two degrees per second or even more, in order to make major changes to its orientation, the far most common thruster firing is merely to trim its orientation against slow drift out of the allowable ‘deadband’ – usually several degrees wide. And such firings impart rotation rates far too gentle to be noticeable on the camera’s field of view.

Flight data shows how gentle such firings are. See www.jamesoberg.com... for the actual orientation angles of the shuttle during the famous STS-48 zig-zag video. The thruster firing that occurred at precisely the time of the lower-left screen ‘flash’ was triggered by the autopilot sensing a pitch error exceeding the allowable range and pulsing the jet to correct it. The imparted rotation rate change was about one one hundredth of a degree per second [about half a degree per minute], which is so miniscule it obviously wouldn’t register on the field of view. This data has been posted on the Internet for many years but apparently people who still cling to the ‘angle-would-change-too-much’ excuse haven’t read it or understood it.

That tiny angular rate can be verified arithmetically. Just get the thrust of a vernier jet, assume a one-second pulse, place it the proper distance from the center of mass of the shuttle, assume uniform mass density for convenience, and use simple physics to determine the imparted angular rate. It will be reasonably close to the value readable off the telemetry stripcharts.
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Jason

Senior Member
We believe that the measurements and analyses contained in this paper establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the objects captured in this video are not orbiter-generated debris (e.g., ice particles) disturbed by a thruster firing. However, it is beyond the scope of this paper to speculate on what they might be. It can only be said that they are not meteorites flashing in the atmosphere, as it has been claimed for flashes seen from the shuttles, because the trajectories, velocities, and sudden changes in direction of certain objects studied in this paper are not compatible with this hypothesis.
An attempt should be made in future missions to detect and record similar events. In particular when not otherwise in use, the fore and aft cameras in the shuttle's payload bay should be monitored so that they can be positioned to allow stereo imagery of similar phenomena to be acquired and analyzed.
Honestly, this was my thinking. Well maybe not as scientifically sound, but this is definitely a strange phenomenon worth examining..

As for the 3 min video I posted in my second post, did you have a chance to examine that as well. These reflective materials can't be ice particles because they are whizzing right by the shuttle in all directions. You can even follow them well beyond the horizon. I don't think ice particles would behave like this, and in this video there are no thruster flashes to use as an option.
 
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