Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong enter Tiangong-2.
Ausgewählte RAW-Aufnahmen von Cassini in Teil-Blog-Beiträgen:
Controlled from Earth, Tianzhou-1 began to approach Tiangong-2 at 5:24 p.m. Tuesday and it took six and a half hours to complete the fast-docking with the space lab.
It was the third docking between the two spacecraft using fast-docking technology. Previously, it took about two days to dock.
The experiment tested the cargo spacecraft's capability of fast-docking, laying a foundation for future space station building.
Tianzhou-1 was launched on April 20 from south China's Hainan Province, and it completed the first and second docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab on April 22 and June 19, respectively.
The cargo spacecraft will conduct the third refueling of the space lab before returning to Earth.
The two spacecraft completed their first in-orbit refueling on April 27 and their second in-orbit refueling on June 15.
China is the third country, after Russia and the United States, to master refueling techniques in space, which is crucial in the building of a permanent space station.
Tiangong-2, which was sent into space on Sept. 15, 2016, is China's first space lab "in the strict sense" and a key step in building a permanent space station.
Cargo ships play a crucial role maintaining a space station and carrying supplies and fuel into orbit.
China's first space freighter, Tianzhou-1, successfully docked with the Tiangong-2 space lab for the third time late on Tuesday, as part of tests for a large future space station.
China's Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 completed their docking at 23:58 Beijing time (15:58 UTC). The craft had been separated for three months.
Commands for the rendezvous and docking were issued at 17:24 Beijing time, according to the China Manned Space Agency, with the new 'fast' process taking 6.5 hours to complete.
Previously the rendezvous and docking process took around two days, or 30 orbits. The breakthrough will be used to allow crewed Shenzhou craft to reach the future Chinese Space Station (CSS) much sooner after launch.
Tianzhou-1 will soon perform a third and final refuelling test with Tiangong-2, before the cargo spacecraft is carefully deorbited over the South Pacific
Tiangong-2 will continue to orbit and perform a range of science experiments.
Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 and hosted the Shenzhou-11crewed mission - by far China's longest - which marked another step towards to the CSS.
Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong enter Tiangong-2.
This followed two docking and refuelling tests, and a period of 60 days coupled in orbit.
Tianzhou-1 was launched on April 20 via a Long March 7 rocket from Wenchang, and, with length of 10.6 metres, a maximum diameter of 3.35m and a mass of 13 tonnes, the cargo ship is also China's largest spacecraft so far.
A view of the inside Tianzhou-1 and its cargo while in orbit.
In future missions to the CSS, Tianzhou craft will also be used to carry waste away from the space station, much like the cargo craft used by Russia, Japan and the United States, with the exception of SpaceX's partly reusable Dragon 2.
BEIJING, China's Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft and Tiangong-2 space lab completed their third and last in-orbit refueling at 8:17 p.m. Saturday.
The third refueling, lasting about three days, confirmed the technical results from the second refueling.
Tianzhou-1, China's first cargo spacecraft, was launched on April 20 from south China's Hainan Province, and it completed automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab on April 22.
The two spacecraft completed their first in-orbit refueling on April 27 and second on June 15.
In the past five months, Tianzhou-1 has operated smoothly and completed various tasks.
BEIJING, China's first cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou-1, separated from Tiangong-2 space lab at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday.
At 3:29 p.m. on Sunday, the cargo ship started to separate from the space lab under orders from the ground. After separation, it operated at an orbit of about 400 kilometers above the earth.
Tianzhou-1 will continue to carry out experiments before it leaves orbit, and will gain experience for building and operating a space station.
Tianzhou-1 was launched on April 20 from south China's Hainan Province, and it completed automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab on April 22.
The two spacecraft completed the first in-orbit refueling on April 27, a second refueling on June 15 and a final one on Saturday. In the past five months, Tianzhou-1 has operated smoothly and completed various tasks.
SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, Sept. 17, west of Baja California, with more than 3,800 pounds of NASA cargo, research experiments and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.
The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to Long Beach, California, where some cargo will be removed immediately for return to NASA. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for final processing.
A variety of technological and biological studies are returning in Dragon. The Lung Tissue experiment used the microgravity environment of space to test strategies for growing new lung tissue. The ultimate goal of this investigation is to produce bioengineered human lung tissue that can be used as a predictive model of human responses allowing for the study of lung development, lung physiology or disease pathology.
Samples from the CASIS PCG 7 study used the orbiting laboratory’s microgravity environment to grow larger versions of an important protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Anatrace and Com-Pac International, researchers will look to take advantage of the station’s microgravity environment which allows protein crystals to grow larger and in more perfect shapes than earth-grown crystals, allowing them to be better analyzed on Earth. Defining the exact shape and morphology of LRRK2 would help scientists to better understand the pathology of Parkinson’s and aid in the development of therapies against this target.
Mice from NASA’s Rodent Research-9 study also will return live to Earth for additional study. The investigation combined three studies into one mission, with two looking at how microgravity affects blood vessels in the brain and in the eyes and the third looking at cartilage loss in hip and knee joints. For humans on Earth, research related to limited mobility and degrading joints can help scientists understand how arthritis develops, and a better understanding of the visual impairments experienced by astronauts can help identify causes and treatments for eye disorders.
Dragon currently is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return a significant amount of cargo to Earth. The spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 14 carrying about 6,400 pounds of supplies and scientific cargo on the company’s twelfth commercial resupply mission to the station.
For more than 16 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,100 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.
Quelle: NASA / SpaceX
Abu Dhabi, Dubai: An Abu Dhabi-based astronomy centre is looking to capitalise on the growing awareness and popularity of astronomy in the country — much of it being driven by the UAE’s ambitious space programmes. It is organising monthlong workshops on the subject first in Dubai and then in Abu Dhabi.
The initiative is being run by the International Astronomy Centre (IAC), with the first workshop on Sunday in Dubai, taking place at the Log In Training Centre. Once the workshops are completed in Dubai, the programme will then move to Abu Dhabi starting October 15 from the centre itself.
“We now live in a very modernised age and much of it is directly as well as indirectly linked to research on space programmes that aspire to understand our universe, and so we believe that this is an important subject to get young people involved with,” he added.
Hakawati explained that the workshops would run three days a week, giving students both theoretical and practical lessons.
“We have planned the workshops for two-hour daily sessions from Tuesday to Thursday over four weeks. The classes are divided into both theoretical and practical teaching, as we felt that it would be much more conducive to not just explain things to the students but to also have them get a hands-on approach as well,” he said.
“From the practical side of things, we will be taking the students out for space observations using high-tech telescopes to view other planets like Jupiter, Saturn, and even other celestial bodies like the sun and moon,” he added.
Hakawati said that theoretical classes would cover a range of subjects related to space, giving students a broad understanding of the subject.
“Theory classes will start from a beginner’s level, gradually moving up with each class. During these theory classes, we want to give the students a general and specific understanding on a number of topics related to space,” he said.
“The subjects include the formation of the universe and its content, other galaxies in the universe, and an understanding of our solar system,” he added.
“The great thing about this workshop is that the students get to see what we re teaching to them, thanks to our space observations,” Hakawati said.
The network is a project in cooperation between the International Astronomy Center and the Emirates Space Agency and consists of a number of astronomical cameras located in places far away and directed to the sky to shoot videos of meteorites that appear in the sky automatically. These meteors may be a fading surface in the atmosphere before they reach Earth, or they may be able to complete their course, reach the Earth, then be called a meteorite, or they may be a satellite or the debris of a satellite falling on the ground. If the camera is captured by a single camera, there is certain scientific and astronomical information that can be inferred from the video analysis. If the camera is captured by more than one camera, the scientific and astronomical information obtained from the analysis of these videos becomes more useful. Please click here to learn more about the network and see the results of camera monitoring.
Quelle: UAE astronomy centre
The eight-month mission to “Mars” for the fifth University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) crew is almost over. Anticipation is building, as the crewmembers get ready to exit their habitat on Mauna Loa on Sunday, September 17, 2017.
The NASA-funded HI-SEAS project aims to help determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions, including travel to Mars.
“Long term space travel is absolutely possible,” says Laura Lark, HI-SEAS V IT specialist. “There are certainly technical challenges to be overcome. There are certainly human factors to be figured out, that’s part of what HI-SEAS is for. But I think that overcoming those challenges is just a matter of effort. We are absolutely capable of it.”
Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 docked in orbit. CCTV/framegrab
While the Cassini probe makes its mission-ending dive into the upper atmosphere of Saturn, much closer to home China's Tiangong-2 space lab is marking a year in orbit.
Since Tiangong-2 was launched late on September 15, 2016, it has hosted China's longest crewed mission so far, performed a range of science experiments, been the target for the country's first orbital refuellings and docking tests with the Tianzhou-1 cargo ship, and is soon set to continue orbiting alone.
Tiangong-2 was designed and launched in order to test and verify technologies for larger space station modules.
As such, the 10.4 metre long, 3.35 wide, 8.6 tonne space lab is a stepping stone to the first 20 tonne Chinese Space Station (CSS) module, which will launch around 2019.
A rendering of Tiangong-2 (left) docked with Shenzhou-11.
This week China's first space freighter, Tianzhou-1, docked with Tiangong-2 for the third and final time, successfully testing a fast-rendezvous procedure.
Following a further refuelling test, Tianzhou-1 will uncouple from Tiangong-2 and be de-orbited into the atmosphere over the South Pacific.
Ahead of Tiangong-2 being left alone at 390 km above the Earth, here are some of the highlights from the past 12 months.
August 3, 2016: Two Long March 2F rockets transferred to launch site for Tiangong-2, Shenzhou-11 launches
September 15: Tiangong-2 launched from Jiuquan by Long March 2F T2 rocket
The Long March 2F-T2 to carry Tiangong-2 into orbit, at the vertical assembly building at Jiuquan.
September 22: Tiangong-2 science payloads start work
October 17: Shenzhou-11 launches from Jiuquan by Long March 2F rocket
Shenzhou-11 lifts off atop a Long March 2F at Jiuquan on October 17, 2016.
October 19: Shenzhou-11 docks automatically with Tiangong-2 space lab
October 23: Banxing-2 companion satellite released to image the Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 spacecraft
November 4: Gastronomical experiences (space journal)
The Banxing-2 'selfie stick' microsatellite images Shenzhou-11 (above) and Tiangong-2.
November 17: Astronauts leave Tiangong-2; Shenzhou-11 separation from Tiangong-2
November 18: Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong land safely back on Earth after 33 days in space
April 20, 2017: China launches Tianzhou-1 to test space station refuelling
Long March 7 (Y2) launches Tianzhou-1
April 22: Tianzhou-1 successfully docks with Tiangong-2 to test refuelling in microgravity
April 24: Tianzhou-1 begins orbital refuelling test with Tiangong-2
April 27: Tianzhou-1 completes first Tiangong-2 refuelling, clearing way to space station
June 19: Tianzhou-1 completes second orbital refuelling test
June 21: Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 undock, enter free flight phase
September 12: Tianzhou-1 cargo craft and Tiangong-2 space lab perform final orbital docking
The third docking between Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 on September 12, 2017.
September 15, 2017: Tiangong-2 marks one year in orbit.
September 2017: Final refuelling test, possible de-orbiting of Tianzhou-1
Following the successes of Tiangong-2, China is clear to proceed with its plans for a large, modular Chinese Space Station.
A magnetic disturbance has been directly observed on a brown dwarf for the first time, showing that these objects behave more like stars than planets. They exhibit strong magnetic fields and possibly, like stars, interact with the discs of gas and dust that surround them in their youth.
“We had no clue if they were like small stars or big planets,” says Svetlana Berdyugina at the University of Freiburg in Germany. That’s because brown dwarfs are in a grey area: their mass is between about 10 and 80 times that of Jupiter, but less than one-tenth that of our sun. They aren’t massive enough to fuse hydrogen the way stars do, though they can briefly fuse the hydrogen isotope deuterium just after they form.
Unlike planets, they form from the contraction of gas clouds rather than the accretion of solid matter. They’re dim, but what light they do emit is due to heat from gas pressure that slowly cools over trillions of years, rather than the energy produced by fusion like in stars.
Berdyugina led a team that used spectral data from Keck telescope observations of a brown dwarf 55 times the mass of Jupiter called LSR J1835+3259, about 18.5 light years away. The light was polarised in a way that revealed a local magnetic field even bigger than the strong ones that accompany sunspots.
Berdyugina says this is so strong because brown dwarfs are relatively dense compared to stars. The field could also have been detected because one of the dwarf’s magnetic poles may have been facing roughly in the direction of Earth when it was observed.
Over the course of two nights, the magnetic disturbance disappeared, but then one appeared on the other side of the brown dwarf. Berdyugina and her colleagues say that probably happened because the disturbance rotated out of and back into view, but they are not certain.
“This measurement confirms some earlier ideas,” says Julien Morin at the University of Montpellier in France. He notes that radio astronomers have seen what seem to be auroras on brown dwarfs, which would require strong magnetic fields.
“But it also brings new puzzles,” he says. “How can a major magnetic region disappear so rapidly?” He notes that previous brown dwarf observations seemed to point to weaker magnetic fields.
If further observations show that the magnetic disturbance comes back at regular intervals, it means we are seeing it as the brown dwarf rotates and it is part of a global field rather than an intermittent phenomenon.
It could also be a sporadic effect of interaction between the brown dwarf, which scientists estimate is only 22 million years old, and an accretion disc.
Still, this magnetic field helps slot brown dwarfs into one category. “Now we can say they really are like small stars,” Berdyugina says.
The 701 club Case 1236: May 29 ,1952
May 29, 1952; San Antonio, Texas. 7 p.m. Witness: USAF pilot Maj. D.W. Feuerstein, on ground. One bright tubular object tilted from horizontal to vertical for 8 minutes, then slowly returned to horizontal, again tilted vertical, accelerated, appeared to lengthen and turned red. The entire sighting lasted 14 minutes.1
One has to wonder about this case because of its duration. Fourteen minutes in daylight indicates something that should have been obvious to more observers than one individual.
The Blue Book file
The file contains a single message and an Air intelligence report describing the event. According to the file2:
It was a long tubular shape in a horizontal position that slowly moved from azimuth 300 to 325 degrees.
It had possible exhaust flames
It changed to a vertical position after 8 minutes
It then tilted to the horizontal before going vertical again.
It moved up and out of sight. As it did, it lengthened and change to a mild red/orange color.
The object was visible at about 25-30 degrees elevation. It moved upwards to an angle of 45 degrees prior to disappearing.
The sighting last 14 minutes between 1900 and 1914 CST.
There was high scattered cirrus in the area.
The air traffic information was unavailable to the investigators.
With such minimal information, it is difficult to come up with a potential solution but there are clues in the report. This was just before sunset when conditions for certain phenomena are likely to occur. The estimated azimuth of the sighting was roughly 20-30 degrees to the right of the setting sun. This is the direction one would expect for a sun dog reflection. While the elevation angle appears off for the sighting, this may have been an overestimate by the observer. The changing shape could have been the result of the shifting cirrus clouds that were seen by the observers. Towards the end of the observation the witness described seeing flame type colors. As one can see from these images, sun dogs have a yellowish-orange-red color.
Another possibility is a jet contrail. The jet contrails seen at sunset/sunrise, were not a common sight in 1952. These articles above demonstrate that, in the early 1950s, people were reporting contrails as “mysterious objects”3,4,5,6,7. An aircraft flying at high altitude could produce an interesting contrail that could be confused as something unknown. The witness was described as a pilot but that does not exclude the possibility that he mistook an unusual contrail for a UFO.
Both the sun dog or contrail explanation are possible answers for this sighting. It is interesting to note that Blue Book noted the possibility of a reflection of some kind on the record card. While the case can not be listed as “explained”, I feel that it could be re- classified as a possible contrail or sun dog.
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2017
June 30, 1954
This case was given special consideration because it supposedly involved scientists seeing, and recording, UFOs during an eclipse expedition. The chronology de- scribes it this way:
June 30, 1954--Nr. Oslo, Norway. Two silvery disks observed and photographed from eclipse expedition planes. [VIII]1
Section VII gives a description of the film.
Scandinavian eclipse film. Three aircraft carrying scientists, newsmen and other observ- ers were flying near Lifjell, Denmark; on an expedition to film and study a total eclipse of the sun. At 2:17 p.m. two shiny discs were noticed flying past the planes and witnessed by about 50 people on the three planes. John Bjornulf, chief cameraman of the expedition, managed to obtain about 10 seconds (of the approximately 30 second UFO flight) on 16 mm color film. The film was reportedly shown on American television December 26, 1954. [See Section I]2
Section I states their source for this information comes from a story written in the Lon- don Evening News by Robert Chapman on December 21, 1955. This is over a year later but it gives a rather extraordinary account given by an Ernest Graham, were 50 people saw the UFO:
A solar eclipse was in progress, and three planes carrying scientists and technicians on a scientific expedition were flying through the moon’s shadow. About 50 people in the three aircraft saw two “enormous” silvery discs swoop down from some clouds 15 to 20 miles away (estimate based on fact UFOs were in sunlight).
The objects sped along the horizon keeping an exact distance from each other, one slightly behind and above the other, both with for- ward edge tilted down. The observers detected apparent rotation, as the UFOs leveled off and disappeared into the distance after about 30 seconds. The chief cameraman of the expedition, John Bjornulf, managed to expose about 10 seconds of movie film which showed the UFOs. The films, released by Gaumont, a British firm, were shown on American television September 26, 1954. Still photographs of the UFOs have also been printed. Ernest Graham, one of the witnesses, stated that 50 persons afterwards wrote reports on what they had seen.3
The total eclipse had occurred at 1:32 PM4 local time so the film was not during totality but during the partial phases after totality. Additionally, Lifjell is in Norway and not Denmark. The eclipse was not total in Denmark and the scientists would have no need to be flying in an area outside of the eclipse path. Since there is no Blue Book file on the photographs one has to look elsewhere for additional information.
NICAP did not include the photographs but research revealed they are available. Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos has an excellent copy in his Fotocat report #1: The year in photographs 1954.5 It shows the wing of the aircraft and two white lines that appeared to be streaking points of light or disk shaped objects seen on edge.
Other details reveal that the film was shot through the windows of a Heron aircraft6 at very high altitude. To prevent window glare for the photographers, the panes had been removed on some of the windows.
The account of the film was a news story in several newspapers in early July of 1954.7 It told a slightly different story than what appears in NICAP’s document. Instead of these saucers being seen and then filmed, the photographer did not see the objects at the time. He only saw them after he watched the film. The newspaper also mentions that an unnamed photographic expert felt they were reflections resulting from filming through the laminated glass windows. Bjornulf also seemed to think they were some sort of mirage or reflection.
Flying Saucer Review tells a fascinating story
Flying Saucer Review of January-February, 1956 had a slightly different account than the media reports. In this story, which was
told by a Mr. Graham, indicated they had seen the objects during flight and Bjornulf then filmed them. This is probably the same
Graham quoted by NICAP. He stated that Bjornulf had been shooting through the open windows with no glass being present for reflection. The article also mentioned how skeptics looked foolish trying to explain the images. It seemed that the case was pretty solid.
Flying Saucer Review debunks the film
Sixteen years later, Flying Saucer Review published a new version of the story that said the film was a hoax!9 In that article Charles Bowen revealed that the film was not even taken by Bjornulf. It had actually been filmed by a man named Conradi. Apparently, Bjornulf began to promote the “saucer” aspect of the film a few days after the eclipse. At that point, a scientist in the eclipse party, Dr. Garwick, stated they were reflections in the window. In order to debunk the film, both Dr. Garwick and H.C. Christensen had a similar plane fly the same route at the same time of day. They noted similar reflections on the windows. Examination of the photographs taken during the eclipse and the position of the wing indicated that these were taken through the third window on the plane. Dr. Garwick explained:
The last two windows on the port side of the plane had been removed and everybody, including the photographer, were of the opinion that the pictures had been taken through window No. 2, i.e. through a window without panes so no reflections would appear.
The team (Brade, Garwick and Christensen - C.B.) took pictures out of the last three windows with the same camera which was used on the flight. These pictures were superimposed upon the pictures showing the light spots, and it was found that the wing perspective fitted exactly for the picture from the third (paned) window, and no others.10
If one looks closely at the photograph in Olmos’ image, one can clearly see a reflection in the window where the UFOs were located indicating that the image was taken through a window.11
It appears this case had been debunked in 1954, when Brade, Garwick and Christensen had addressed the images in an article in Af- tenposten on October 14, 1954(see next page)!12 In that article, they presented their evidence as to which window the photographs were taken. Apparently, the proponents of the film were arguing that there was no window and had asked the photographer if he had taken them through a window or not. Conradi had replied he thought he had shot through one of the windows without glass but this was during totality. A photograph taken from the rear of the plane during the eclipse showed Conradi on the right side of the plane. This indicated that personnel were not always in the same location and, since the film was taken AFTER totality, it seems logical that Conradi had moved and filmed through a window with glass.13
For some reason, NICAP and Flying Saucer Review seemed to be unaware of this information when they published their one-sided account of what had transpired. It wasn’t until 1972, when somebody decided to look a bit further, was the true story revealed.
In 1991, Flying Saucer Review would publish another story about the film by somebody who was an advisor on films for the British Ministry of Supply. His story was based on his memories about seeing the film in the late 1950s. Some of the story did not quite
match with the story about the film. He seemed convinced that these UFOs were actual craft.14
That being said, the story told in the 1972 Flying Saucer review seems the most accurate. The sources are people who were present at the time the film was recorded and appear to be more reliable than those used by NICAP. In my opinion, the case should be considered explained and rejected as “UFO best evidence”.
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2017
Recent discussion about how the Condon study was flawed has me wondering exactly what mistakes were made and what a modern version of such a study might look like. Could it accomplish anything? What would be required to satisfy the UFO pro- ponents and skeptics alike?
A caustic environment
In his conclusions to the Colorado Project, Dr. Condon had written:
I had some awareness of the passionate controversy that swirled around the subject, contributing added difficulty to the task of making a dispassionate study. This hazard proved to be much greater than was appreciated at the outset. Had I known the extent of the emo- tional commitment of the UFO believers and the extremes of conduct to which their faith can lead them, I certainly would never have undertaken the study. 1
This kind of environment is more prevalent today. Social media is full of UFO proponents, who are highly critical of any scientist, who voices an opinion contrary to the accepted conclusion that “UFOs are real”. Scientists have been portrayed as dishonest or un- informed by various UFO supporters. Despite this kind of criticism, UFOlogists still want the scientific community to respect their work and recognize that UFOs are something that needs to be examined.
The failures of the Colorado project
The Colorado project suffered from many flaws but not the kind of flaws often mentioned by UFOlogists. In my opinion, Dr. Con- don was starting “behind the eight ball” to begin with. Unless evidence had surfaced that indicated there was something truly remarkable associated with these UFO reports, he was going to be stuck evaluating cases that may or may not have explanations. Solving each and every one to everybody’s satisfaction was going to be a tall task.
The US Air Force’s, Project Blue Book, had been the subject of a great deal of criticism. Some of it was justified. However, a great deal of it was generated by UFO organizations that chose to exaggerate claims about cases and ignore evidence that indicated those cases may not be as solid as they wanted everyone to believe. These same criticisms by UFO organizations would be leveled at the Condon report once it was released.
Some of those criticisms were:
The “classic” UFO cases from previous years were never examined. These cases were considered, by UFO organizations, as indis- putable evidence that they represented reports of actual craft that were something “alien” to the earth.
The study did not “solve” a good portion of the cases examined. This indicated UFOs are something that needed to be studied.
Witness testimony was often ignored when cases were “explained”.
They did not level criticism at Blue Book for poor investigations and misleading the public.
The study tried to address these criticisms in their report.
It was determined that old cases would not prove beneficial to the team’s investigations. The passage of time and reliability of memory would interfere with uncovering new information that might solve these cases. In general, testimony of witnesses recorded shortly after their experiences can be considered more reliable than the stories told years, or decades, later.
The fact that a good deal of these cases were not solved does not mean there was no solution. A lack of a good explanation does not mean there weren’t possible explanations that could not be confirmed. As the National Academy of Sciences stated:
The Report recognizes that there remain UFO sightings that are not easily explained. The Report does not suggest, however, so many reasonable and possible directions in which an explanation may eventually be found, that there seems to be no reason to attribute them to an extraterrestrial source without evidence that is much more convincing.2
The problems with witness testimony has always been the problem with UFO sightings. When William Hartmann wrote about the Zond IV sightings, he demonstrated that there was a percentage of UFO reports that often can be unreliable and exaggerated.
the testimony might be flawed to the point that the solution is not readily apparent. The scientists recognized this problem. UFOlogists often ignore it.
4. The lack of criticism was not quite accurate. The O’Brien committee had noted that the USAF had lacked resources and some- times identified cases without enough data. 4 However, they, and Condon, did not spend a lot of effort trying to be overly critical of how the USAF was trying to explain every case. The USAF did make mistakes in their investigations but NICAP also made mistakes in their promotion of weak cases. If UFO proponents wanted Blue Book’s performance evaluated, one would expect them to have NICAP’s efforts also evaluated. In my opinion, both sides would not have looked very good. Such an effort would have done nothing to further the study of UFOs and would have been a waste of time and money.
Some UFOlogists felt the whole event was a grand conspiracy, where the scientists were told by the USAF to debunk all UFO sight- ings and prove that UFOs were nonsense. The testimonies of Condon and other scientists involved indicate that this is not true. All seemed to think they were given a free hand to pursue their studies. The study itself is proof that this was not a whitewash. After all, if their objective was to explain away all UFO reports, why would they list so many of their cases as “unexplained”?
The source of the conspiracy appears to come from two documents. The first is the Low Memorandum, which was found by Dr. Craig and the existence known by the staff before being leaked to the media. The document was not classified or swept under the rug. Low did not even bother to hide the memo from the rest of the staff. Even more important is that Dr. Condon was unaware of the document’s existence.5 The memo did not even reflect his approach in conducting the project. While UFOlogists like to state that this meant the conclusion of the study was per-determined, the memo does not prove this.
The other document that supposedly proves the conclusions of the study was a “fait accompli”, is a letter Colonel Hippler had writ- ten to Condon. Kevin Randle has interpreted this document to indicate that the Condon study was nothing more than propaganda presented by the USAF and that it was not science at all. One has to examine what Colonel Hippler had written and look at this from his point of view. He was trying to convey to Dr. Condon that the USAF would like a conclusion from the study that could determine what path the USAF could take with project Blue Book. He was concerned that the study would come up with an ambiguous con- clusion regarding UFOs, which would result in the USAF spending more resources on a subject that, they felt, had no endpoint in sight. He did not state, “You must debunk UFOs”. He only wanted a conclusion that could allow the USAF to either discontinue the study of UFOs or, if there was something there to be concerned about, require Blue Book to continue:
When you have looked into some sightings and examined some Blue Book records and become acquainted with the true state of affairs, you must consider the cost of the Air Force program on UFOs, and determine if the taxpayer should support this for the next decade. It will be at least that long before another independent study can be mounted to see if the Air Force can get out from under this program. If the contract is up before you have laid the proper groundwork for a proper recommendation, an extension of the contract would be less costly than another decade of operating Project Blue Book.6
Dr. Craig described this same attitude in his book on the Condon study:
Later, after Dr. J. Thomas Ratchford, who had represented the AFOSR in negotiating the project contract, said, “I think the only thing that we are really asking you to do is to take a look at the problem, first of all, and on the basis of what you determine recommend what the Air Force should do in the future.” Col. Hippler then remarked, “I don’t think we want any recommendations from you unless you feel strongly about it.”7
The USAF was simply stating that if Condon was going to recommend that “UFOs still needed to be studied by the USAF”, he would need to provide good reasons why because the USAF could not see any reason to do so at this point.
Effects of the Condon study
Many UFO proponents feel that Condon’s conclusions had made it impossible for scientists to study UFOs. This is not true. There have been plenty of scientists, who have pursued the study of UFOs. Unfortunately, they have failed to produce meaningful results. Is this because there fellow scientists have belittled their research or is because, as Condon had noted, it is very difficult to study the subject scientifically?
In 1997, Peter Sturrock put together a panel of scientists and UFOlogists to examine the best UFO evidence to date. Much was made of this because, according to the press release, the panel had “overturned” Condon’s conclusions. This was something of an exaggeration.
The panel also reviewed some of the conclusions advanced in 1968 by Dr. Edward U. Condon, director of the Colorado Project. He asserted
that “nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge,” and that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” While agreeing with the first con- clusion and its extension to the present, the panel considers that there always exists the possibility that investigation of an unexplained phenomenon may lead to an advance in scientific knowledge.8
Anybody who actually read Condon’s recommendations would realize that he never stated that scientist should never study UFOs. After making the statement about scientifically studying UFOs could not be justified, Condon added that he felt that scientists, who wanted to study UFOs should do so.
Our conclusion that study of UFO reports is not likely to advance science will not be uncritically accepted by them. Nor should it be, nor do we wish it to be. For scientists, it is our hope that the detailed analytical presentation of what we were able to do, and of what we were unable to do, will assist them in deciding whether or not they agree with our conclusions. Our hope is that the details of this report will help other scientists in seeing what the problems are and the difficulties of coping with them.
If they agree with our conclusions, they will turn their valuable attention and talents elsewhere. If they disagree it will be because our report has helped them reach a clear picture of wherein existing studies are faulty or incomplete and thereby will have stimulated ideas for more accurate studies. If they do get such ideas and can formulate them clearly, we have no doubt that support will be forthcoming to carry on with such clearly-defined, specific studies. We think that such ideas for work should be supported.9
It seems that the Sturrock panel essentially mirrored what Condon had stated. This is interesting because this panel of scientists were exposed to a very one-sided presentation of UFO cases by UFO scientists. One might classify this as “UFOlogy’s best and brightest” presenting the “best evidence available”. Despite the biased presentation, they really did not make a dent in the opinion of these scientists.
Panel co-chair, Dr. Von R. Eshleman, would elaborate about his participation in a subsequent interview:
I got a cold call from someone I knew, and it sounded like an interesting subject, and I’m emeritus, so I don’t have to worry about my colleagues saying I shouldn’t be doing these things. The concept of not even listening to the reports, I think is a mistake, and there are examples in the scientific literature where scientists have been wrong for very long periods of time...UFOs remain unidentified because there isn’t enough evidence to go beyond the unidentified category, ... “unfortunately many people, when you say UFO, think that means a visitation of aliens or a government cover-up or something like that...10
He also commented about their conclusions:
I thought we wrote a pretty mild report...We only changed the Condon Report in a minor way. We agree that nothing so far has really overturned science, but let’s keep an open mind. I was surprised the media picked it up the way it did, but for a scientific group to say anything that doesn’t completely debunk the UFOs, I suppose, was a surprise.11
Several other members of the panel discussed their participation and mirrored D.r Eshelman’s comments. In some cases, they were critical of how the UFOlogists did not objectively consider explanations other than exotic ones. This was mentioned in the conclu- sions by the panel:
It appears that most current UFO investigations are carried out at a level of rigor that is not consistent with prevailing standards of scien- tific research...It may therefore be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to science. However, to be credible to the scientific community, such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses.12
This is the only time, since Condon, that scientists, outside of the UFO field, had formally examined the UFO evidence and this was their response. Can UFOlogists really expect scientists to come to a different conclusion in any study?
A new scientific study
If Condon is as flawed as UFOlogists want everyone to believe, getting a different result should not be difficult. This means that a new study should be conducted. While the first was funded by the US government, this study would have to be funded by outside sources. This might present a conflict of interest unless the terms of the contract was clear that those conducting the study were independent of UFOlogy/formal skeptics and that their conclusions would not be influenced by the financier.
The source of the finances should not be too difficult. MUFON spent money on a public relations firm and probably could team with other UFO organizations to fund such a study. After all, it is the UFOlogists who state that the evidence exists and a new study will prove it. They want it, they should pay for it.
It is a common theme in UFOlogy that scientists do not want to study UFOs because they consider it nonsense or that there exists a conspiracy set in place by the findings of the Condon study that scientists are not allowed to study the subject. Most scientists, who have spoken on the subject, seem to reflect the attitude that there is little to the subject that interests them. For them to quit their current line of work, they would have to be enticed financially and given guarantees that they would not be beset by UFOlo- gists trying to influence their conclusions.
Since there is no such thing as the science of UFOlogy, one would expect that multiple disciplines (astronomy, geology, atmospheric sciences, chemistry, optics, etc.) would be needed. In addition to sightings/physical evidence, abduction claims would also have to be investigated, which means that personnel from the medical profession will be required.
A possible project
The study would have to include all the areas championed by UFOlogists. This would include:
An Examination of old cases selected by UFOlogists as the most significant. Perhaps a top twenty, which would include photo- graphic and video evidence.
A time period would be set aside for a field team to be dispatched to any case in the United States that presents evidence that is significant and contains multiple independent witnesses from different locations. Single witness cases would be also included if they involve additional corroborating evidence such as photographs or video evidence. The team would not be asked to go investigate single witness that cannot be verified.
Cases involving data obtained solely through instrumentation.
Set up UFO stations to collect UFO data in selected “hot spot” areas
Medical examination of persons claiming to be abducted.
I can address some of the problems with these goals:
Old cases tend to be hard to analyze as noted here in SUNlite. However, there has been indications that some cases that were declared “unsolvable” in the past now have reasonable explanations for them. Cases like Rendlesham, the 1997 Yukon case, Sky- lab III, McMinnville, RB-47, Malmstrom, Kelly Johnson, Teheran, and Shag Harbor were all presented as “Best evidence’ in Paul Kimball’s film. The list was a consensus list of best cases. Some of these cases had explanations offered for them in the past and others had explanations offered for them since the film’s release. It is hard to believe that scientists would consider any of these cases of evidence of anything significant unless there was new evidence unearthed in any follow-up. Since UFOlogists have not revealed anything new and skeptics have, it seems that these cases would be rejected as not being significant. One might say the same for just about any old UFO case. Perhaps if UFOlogists picked one good case, they can agree upon, scientists could examine that one case closely. As Dr. William Hartmann stated, in the quote I put on the cover of this issue, if it stands up to scrutiny, they might have a point.13 However, if it is solved or potential solution is presented, would they accept the conclusion? Would UFOlogists be afraid of having one of their “best cases” closely examined and evaluated by scientists?
The investigation of cases seems to offer something for scientists to evaluate. I suspect the conclusions would be similar to that of the Condon study. They may stumble across cases that do not have a definitive solution but this does not mean that there is no solution. The rejection of any single witness/non-independent group sighting without verification is important here. Some of the “unknown” cases in Condon were of the single witness type and these are often difficult to evaluate.
The cases involving instrumentation would be the best cases for scientists to study. The Puerto Rico video would be an ideal case for evaluation since the data is available. Skeptics would be willing to accept any conclusion offered by scientists outside of the UFO community but I doubt that groups like MUFON and the SCU would be so willing to accept their conclusions if it differed from theirs.
The UFO station idea has been tossed about for a few years. That being said, it has been mostly talk and there seems to be no firm plan in place or progress in this area. What is ignored is that there are actual stations scattered across the world already doing something very similar. The fireball network employed by NASA14 and the “Sky sentinel” network15 have all sky cameras monitoring the skies every night for bright meteors. Surely one would record these huge “spaceships” witnesses have claimed to be seeing for the past twenty to thirty years. The more stations, the greater the odds that a craft “unknown to science” would be recorded. To date, none of these cameras have recorded anything truly “unknown” but they have recorded hundreds of
bright meteor events. Some of these camera systems have been run by amateur astronomers who invested their own money to produce data to collect possible meteorites. Why haven’t UFOlogists invested their own funds to set up their own networks?
5. One has to wonder if any abductee would be interested in examinations by medical doctors and psychiatrists outside of the UFO field. I also wonder if any doctor would be interested in opening themselves up to a malpractice lawsuit filed by an abduct- ee if they consider them to be suffering from sort of mental illness.
Is a new study worth it?
Based on the arguments above, I think a new scientific study, if UFOlogists could get scientists interested, would be a wasted ef- fort. There would be some explanations, some mysteries, but no definitive answers. The results would simply mirror what Con- don had discovered and the conclusions would be pretty much the same. UFOlogists would not be willing to accept such a result.
Establishing a government agency to study UFOs, as Leslie Kean has proposed, would be a complete misuse of taxpayer funds. All it would result in is a database of sightings, which is already being done by NUFORC and MUFON. It probably would also squander resources from other government agencies trying to investigate “lights in the sky” reports. It would be tough selling that idea to somebody in congress when the money can be spent elsewhere on “more important” things.
In my opinion, the only possible path for UFOlogists to take is that outlined by Dr. Hartmann in his article about UFO photos. That is to select one case and then present it in a manner that would allow scientists to review the data. That means they would have to attempt to publish in a professional journal of some kind instead of publishing in the MUFON journal or on the Internet.
Somebody once stated that if you keep doing things the same way, you are going to get the same results. Until UFOlogy decides to take new steps to improve their approach on the subject, they will always be regarded as a pseudo-scientific/fringe field that has no hope of proving anything.
Notes and references
Condon, E. U., et al., eds. Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. New York: Bantam 1968. P. 548
Panel of the National Academy of Sciences. Review of the University of Colorado report on Unidentified Flying Objects. National Academy of Sciences. 1969. Attachment 2 P. 9
Condon, E. U., et al., eds. Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. New York: Bantam 1968. P. 575-6
ibid. P. 814
Craig, Roy. UFOs: An Insider’s View of the Offical Quest for Evidence. Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1995. P. 200.
Randle, Kevin. “The Hippler letter”. A Different Perspective. March 21, 2007. Available WWW: http://kevinrandle.blogspot. com/2007/03/hippler-letter.html
Craig, Roy. UFOs: An Insider’s View of the Offical Quest for Evidence. Denton: University of North Texas Press, 1995. P. 235
Sturrock, Peter. The UFO Enigma. New York: Warner Books 1999. P. 122
Condon, E. U., et al., eds. Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. New York: Bantam 1968. P. 2.
Koerner, Daveid and Simon LeVay. Here be dragons: the scientific quest for extraterrestrial life. Oxford University press. New York. 2000. P. 190
Sturrock, Peter. The UFO Enigma. New York: Warner Books 1999. P. 121
Sagan, Carl, and Thornton Page, eds. UFO’s: A Scientific Debate. New York: Barnes & Nobles, 1972. P. 21
NASA’ s all sky fireball network. Available WWW: http://fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov/
SkySentinel, LLC. Sky Sentinel. Available WWW: http://goskysentinel.com/
Quelle: SUNlite 3/2017