As Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner, who is currently onboard the International Space Station (ISS), was filming an aurora over Antarctica, several strange lights were spotted. The 60-second clip, filmed from the ISS, shows at least five mysterious dots moving in unison, heading behind Earth, from Mr Vagner’s perspective.
The cosmonaut, as Russian astronauts are known, posted the video to Twitter, stoking the flames of a UFO conspiracy theory.
Mr Vagner said: “Space guests, or how I filmed the new time-lapse.
“The peak of aurora borealis when passing over the Antarctic in Australia’s longitude, meaning in between them. However, in the video, you will see something else, not only the aurora.
“At nine to 12 seconds, five objects appear flying alongside with the same distance. What do you think those are? Meteors, satellites or…?
“P.S. The frames were captured 1 per sec and later assembled in a video with 25 frames per sec rate. Meaning, the real observation time is 52 sec.
“P.P.S. The information was brought to the notice of Roscosmos management, the materials were sent to TsNIIMash and the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences for further analysis.”
Naturally, people of Twitter were quick to jump to conclusions of extraterrestrial origin.
One person said: “Cosmonaut ISS captured 5 UFOs flying over Antarctic.”
Another said: “Astronaut on board of ISS filmed 3 UFO’s from the viewport.”
However, others believe there is a more simple explanation and state it was merely a train of Starlink satellites.
One person said: “I’ll guess the objects were part of the Starlink constellation. They were in a string formation.”
Another added: “Probably Starlink satellites.”
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Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious yet controversial plan to launch 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit, with the aim of supplying internet to every corner of the globe.
The first of the 12,000 satellites were launched in May 2019, and month by month Elon Musk’s firm has steadily been increasing its numbers in the skies.
As Starlink relies on satellites to provide internet, the plans have been met with criticism from astronomers who claimed satellite constellations were obscuring the view of the cosmos.
Despite conceding Mr Musk’s Starlink project came with “good intentions”, astronomers are concerned about how it will affect their understanding of the universe and what it contains.
Last year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said in a statement: “The scientific concerns are twofold.
“Firstly, the surfaces of these satellites are often made of highly reflective metal, and reflections from the Sun in the hours after sunset and before sunrise make them appear as slow-moving dots in the night sky.
“Although most of these reflections may be so faint that they are hard to pick out with the naked eye, they can be detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes, including the extreme wide-angle survey telescopes currently under construction.
“Secondly, despite notable efforts to avoid interfering with radio astronomy frequencies, aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.
“Recent advances in radio astronomy, such as producing the first image of a black hole or understanding more about the formation of planetary systems, were only possible through concerted efforts in safeguarding the radio sky from interference.”
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