by Jerry Nelson
Leroy Chiao is not known to be a publicity seeker or a connoisseur of mind altering substances. He’s known to be a pioneering astronaut and recently decided to talk about an encounter in space that he can’t explain. UFOs are usually the stuff of movies or conspiracy theorists but in 2005, Chiao noticed something that has him wondering about “life out there.”
In 2005, Chiao was flying high as commander of the International Space Station. Living there from October 2004 until April 2005, Chiao got to see some things that he didn’t expect. While he and Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov were taking a stroll outside of the ISS something caught Chiao’s attention. The two were putting together some navigational antennas 230 miles above the ground and flying at 17,000 miles an hour when something went by them, traveling even faster.
Chiao says that he saw some lights that he thought were in a line. When the lights flew by him, Chiao thought it was “…awfully strange.” Sharipov didn’t see the lights. He was looking the other way. Chiao’s experience is one of several stories that will be told on an upcoming program on the Science Channel.
One theory for Chiao’s sighting of a UFO is more down to earth than a fly by with a space ship. The lights, according to the theory, were bright lights from a fishing boat several hundred miles below the free-floating astronaut. It’s easy for many people to believe that Chiao witnessed a spacecraft. As an astronaut, Chiao doesn’t believe that there is any evidence that an intelligently controlled craft from another planet has ever visited Earth.
“I’m skeptical of claims…” said Chiao about the stories he’s heard about Earth being visited by aliens. He doesn’t just dismiss the idea out of hand. “I don’t rule it out 100 percent. I have an open mind and I do believe there’s other life in the universe.”
Another piece of photographic “evidence” of UFOs existence is an image made during the 1972 Apollo 16 moon mission. One of the shots contained in a film canister brought back by moon-hiking astronauts was an image of something that resembled a “traditional” flying saucer positioned just above the horizon.
More recently, UFO hunters believe they have found proof of a UFO streaking through the Martian sky. In an image taken by the rover Curiosity, a possible craft can be seen leaving a trail in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. An enlargement of the image, posted by UFO hunter, StreetCap1, shows a cone with a spherical top and a rounded center body. The image is one of several that people have claimed show mysterious objects.
Skeptics say that it’s more than likely just a meteor.
In May 2013, a blogger, who specializes in science, claimed to see a lizard wandering around Mars’ surface close to the rover. That claim, which was posted on one of dozens of online UFO sightings websites, got some conspiracy theorists thinking that NASA is planting life on the planet.
The rover, Curiosity, touched down on Mars on August 6, 2012. It has spent its time checking out the landscape and analyzing the geology of the planet. Costing $2.5 billion, the rover’s main goal is to see if the planet has, or ever had, the chemical makeup to support life as we know it.
While Chiao is finished being an astronaut and moved on to other careers, science fiction fans and conspiracy theorists still stand in the backyard gazing up at the stars and wondering if we’re truly alone.
By Jerry Nelson