Print 42 comment(s) - last by GhostR!der.. on Dec 16 at 3:45 PM

YouTube user siniXster believes the NASA camera footage is a UFO, but scientists say its just a ghost of where Mercury was positioned the previous day

A video making its way around the Web has many wondering an age-old question: Are we alone in the universe?

The Heliospheric Imager-1 (HI-1), a camera system aboard NASA's STEREO spacecraft, managed to capture some questionable footage last week of what some are calling a cloaked spaceship orbiting Mercury.

The footage caught a coronal mass ejection last week, where electronically charged material catapulted from the sun and hit Mercury. The solar flare that struck Mercury seemed to have hit another large object about the same size nearby, which was described as cylindrical on both sides with a shape in the center, resembling a spaceship. 

YouTube user siniXster posted the footage on the Internet saying that the object in question was clearly a cloaked spaceship that may be indicative of alien life.

"What object cloaks itself and doesn't appear until it gets hit by energy from the sun?" said siniXster, who also mentioned that there could be no other explanation for the Mercury-sized object.

However, scientists at the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) disagree. According to NRL's Russ Howard, head scientist, and Nathan Rich, lead ground systems engineer, the mystery UFO is actually Mercury itself. It is simply a ghost of where Mercury was positioned the previous day, and was visible due to the way raw HI-1 telescope data is processed.

Howard and Rich explained that NRL scientists typically remove background light when processing such data in order to make the glow of a coronal mass ejection apparent against the bright glare from space. They identify what light is background light by calculating the average amount of light that entered individual camera pixels the day of the event as well as the day before. Light found in the pixels on both days is background light, and is then eliminated from the footage while the rest of the light is enhanced. This process is relatively easy for bodies like stars, but for those that are closer and move, such as planets, the process is a bit more challenging.

"When [this averaging process] is done between the previous day and the current day and there is a feature like a planet, this introduces dark (negative) artifacts in the background where the planet was on the previous day, when then show up as bright areas in the enhanced image," said Rich.

When this footage is reprocessed from a different day, the bright spot disappears due to different pixel values and removed light.

It looks like believers will have to wait another day for E.T. to phone home, but take a look for yourself and see what you think:

Sources: Life's Little Mysteries, Yahoo News

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By mitchebk on 12/8/2011 1:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
I was really hoping for "moonlight from a weather-balloon gas leak reflected off the surface of Venus"

Where are the MiB when you need 'em?

RE: Really!?
By Zuul on 12/8/2011 1:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
I thought I was the only one who was thinking of that MiB quote... though it's actually:

"Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus"

RE: Really!?
By Mitch101 on 12/8/2011 3:16:32 PM , Rating: 1
Ok. First, get some contact lenses, cause those jaunts look like they could pick up cable. Second, take her to Cambodia, get her a lobster dinner. Pay more than a dollar. Third, the second y'all get back from Cambodia, move your bum ass outta your mom's house. Boy, you like forty years old.

RE: Really!?
By tng on 12/8/2011 1:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
If it was a "Cloaked Ship", why would you park it next to the sun where this type of thing would reveal it? With all of the empty space out there where such a thing would never be detected, that is where I would be.

Do we just assume that the LGM are that dumb?

RE: Really!?
By kleinma on 12/8/2011 2:07:07 PM , Rating: 5
The same reason when someone hears a noise in their house it must be a ghost instead of the wind, or the house settling, or a mouse walking around.

RE: Really!?
By Mitch101 on 12/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: Really!?
By Mitch101 on 12/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: Really!?
By boobo on 12/8/2011 8:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Elementary. There is no place within 4 light years around where you can get anywhere NEAR as good a suntan as in Mercury.

RE: Really!?
By JediJeb on 12/9/2011 11:29:50 AM , Rating: 3
Maybe they are using the sun to recharge their engines, isn't that how Ancient Technology works?

RE: Really!?
By Natch on 12/12/2011 12:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously.....besides, everyone knows you're going to find cloaked Klingons around Uranus, NOT Mercury!

RE: Really!?
By MrBlastman on 12/8/2011 2:05:51 PM , Rating: 5
I figured an excuse like this would come out. The only way for them to build credibility with their explanation is to:

a. Release the unaltered footage from multiple angles (i.e. unprocessed).

b. Release footage showing this happening in other observations and not just this one.

We can't take anything we hear from out Government at face value. Citizens should demand facts and evidence so they can judge for themselves.

IF it were a UFO... it'd be the size of the Moon. I fear the Empire is already among us. I hope, for our sake, that Earth is not their next Alderran. It's either that or just the team from the Intergalactic Highway Construction Consortium (IHCC) on their way to notify us that we have 9 minutes before they begin the demolition process here...

RE: Really!?
RE: Really!?
By tng on 12/8/2011 2:30:36 PM , Rating: 4
...just the team from the Intergalactic Highway Construction Consortium (IHCC) on their way to notify us that we have 9 minutes before they begin the demolition process here...
So I was talking to this dolphin this morning and he said he was leaving....

RE: Really!?
By Motoman on 12/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: Really!?
By Solandri on 12/8/2011 5:34:43 PM , Rating: 3
This is a tried and true practice in space imaging. The same technique has been used to verify exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) and stellar accretion disks. Normally there's so much light coming from the star that it obliterates anything as dim as a planet. So you build up an average image of the star, and subtract it from subsequent photos. This mathematically removes the star's light, and out pops the planets or disk.

I remember they even had to do this with images from the Voyager spacecraft. The cameras wouldn't produce a uniform black. Some "pixels" (Voyager used scanning TV cameras so didn't have true pixels) were "hotter" than others so would consistently show up as a shade of grey instead of black. So they poured over hundreds of pictures of black space (so they wouldn't mistake a hot star for a hot pixel), and built up a huge map of the hot pixels. Then in all subsequent pictures, the value of these hot pixels were normalized to make their brightness consistent with the normal pixels.

Digital SLRs can do the same thing via a setting called long exposure noise reduction (mostly used by astrophotographers). In this setting the camera takes two pictures. First it shoots the picture you want. Then it immediately takes a second picture with the same exposure, but this time with the shutter closed. That creates a "black frame" where the only things in the images are the hot pixels. The camera then subtracts the second picture from the first, greatly reducing the noise in image.

RE: Really!?
By JediJeb on 12/9/2011 11:44:37 AM , Rating: 2
That "black frame" is also sometimes called a "dark frame" in astroimaging software. Anyone interested can read up on the Meade or Celestron or SBIG websites for introductory info on CCD astroimaging.

RE: Really!?
By spread on 12/8/2011 5:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
a. Release the unaltered footage from multiple angles (i.e. unprocessed). b. Release footage showing this happening in other observations and not just this one.

a) They usually don't release the footage or any raw data for anything. Although it would be very interesting to see what it looks like.

b) I'm sure this happens in many other observations. When stacking images into composites like this, you can get all sorts of weird artifacts and ghosting. It would be easy to tell if it's an image artifact by looking at all the raw frames before they are processed and cleaned.

RE: Really!?
By TSS on 12/9/2011 6:27:41 AM , Rating: 2
That may be so, but i'm with the scientists on this one.

This clearly is a ghost planet and not a UFO.

RE: Really!?
By bbcdude on 12/10/2011 2:18:40 PM , Rating: 2
Their explanation makes sense. When I did some work at a small university observatory, they had ambient light reduction by tilting a mirror off axis on a regular fast repeating schedule to measure what shifted and what didn't to remove the ambient light from towns nearby. Wait, that fits perfectly with this explanation, same dam thing only they use multiple days frames. But better to deal with conspiracies and planet sized alien ships than a simple and probable explanation.

If you will never believe any explanations they give, how will you ever learn anything? Oh wait, you don't. You just believe anything you want and ignore anything that doesn't fit with it.

RE: Really!?
By Omega215D on 12/8/2011 5:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe the 'X' on a crater on Mercury has something to do with it...

RE: Really!?
By GhostR!der on 12/16/2011 3:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
They probably dump their crap on mercury and forgot to jump before the solar flare hit their spaceship.

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