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Pandemic or Elon Musk? Researchers look at rising UFO sightings

At the beginning of the pandemic, as many people spent much more time indoors or outdoors than usual, several researchers were interested in the effects of public health measures on one area of ​​science: UFO sightings.

Will more people report seeing UFOs the longer they stay at home? The answer, according to a new research paper that’s been published Journal of Scientific Exploration last monthyes and no.

UFO reports did increase in 2020, but according to researchers, the pandemic did not appear to be the cause.

Instead, the culprit, or at least a complicating factor, may be the company owned by Elon Musk.

The articles outline how researchers believe that due to lockdowns and physical distancing measures, as well as increased anxiety among the public, there may have been an increase in UFO sightings.

To test their hypothesis, they examined data from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), which collect UFO reports from across the United States, and looked at data from 2018 to 2020 to compare the data. : before and during the epidemic.

They also looked at Google Community Mobility Reports to see overall levels of population mobility during these periods, as well as rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths to get an idea of ​​when anxiety and stress might have been higher in the region. communities.

In 2020, a clear rise was observed. each database recorded about 600 more reports than pre-pandemic levels.

But where and when these reports came from did not appear to be related to mobility records or levels of COVID-19.

Without any clear link to the increase in reports, the researchers looked for any complicating factors.

What they found was Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Starting in late 2019, SpaceX began regular launches of Starlink satellites, which provide satellite Internet coverage to 50 countries.

These launches involve up to 60 satellites at once, greatly increasing the number of small, flying objects in the sky.

Researchers have seen a correlation between the timing of Starlink’s launch and an increase in UFO sightings, meaning that many UFO sightings in 2020 may be of terrestrial origin rather than extraterrestrial.

When the researchers removed sightings that appeared to be related to Starlink launches, they actually saw a drop in total sightings reported to NUFORC in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic years.

Although the result differed from the researchers’ hypothesis, it is clear that UFO sightings often have human explanations.

“This study sheds light on the possible influence of social factors on UFO reports,” said Mark Rodegier, Scientific Director of the Center for UFO Studies. said in the press release.

Starlink has launched more than 3,000 satellites so far, raising concerns among astronomers. years.

Mistaking UFOs isn’t the only way they affect our view of the night sky. Moons are increasingly visible as thin streaks in deep space photographs that punctuate telescope views as our atmosphere becomes more and more turbulent.

a The 2022 study reports that The Starlink satellites, which currently form the largest constellation in low Earth orbit, created 5,301 layers on archival images scientists took of the night sky. Satellites interfere most with twilight observations, which is the best time to spot asteroids that appear close to the Sun. According to the study, only 0.5 percent of space images taken at dusk in 2019 were affected by satellite distortion, but 20 percent were affected by the end of the study period.

Starlink aims to hit 10,000 satellites by 2027. Whether or not this will lead to 10,000 additional UFO sightings down the road remains to be seen.

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