Scientists debunk reports of UFOs flying over Ukraine in recent months
Reports of UFOs are often explained rationally and debunked when analyzed through a scientific lens — even if it takes more than one scientific organization or entity to rigorously trawl through the data.
That's exactly what happened when Ukraine's national science agency debunked a report by another group of scientists on UFOs, or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), flying through Ukrainian skies in recent months.
Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb also joined in with his own analysis, available in the preprint server arXiv, that highlights errors in the methodology of detailed reports claiming large amounts of UAPs were flying over the wartorn country.
Ukraine UFO report contains "significant errors"
The Ukrainian UAP report was released in mid-September by scientists at Kyiv's Main Astronomical Observatory (MAO). It described "a significant number of objects whose nature is not clear." These included dark "phantoms" that traveled at speeds of up to 33,000 mph (53,000 km/h) — almost double the speed of a standard intercontinental ballistic missile.
The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU) has since finished an investigation into that report, and it concluded the MAO report was conducted unprofessionally and contained "significant errors." Namely, "the processing and interpretation of results were performed at an inappropriate scientific level and with significant errors in determining distances to the observed objects," the NASU scientists wrote in a statement.
The UAPs highlighted in the MAO report can likely be explained by less exotic means, the NASU scientists explained, adding that "the authors do not provide arguments that natural phenomena or artificial objects of earthly origin may be among the observed UAPs." They also said the MAO researchers postulated "unreasonable conclusions about the characteristics of the observed objects as UAPs."
Avo Loeb highlights further discrepancies in the UFO report
The MAO researchers' report only drew data from a single telescope, a fact that drew the attention — and perhaps the ire — of one of the world's leading UAP experts, Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb.
Loeb has courted controversy by claiming the interstellar space rock 'Oumuamua may have been an alien spacecraft. He has also been vocal in his belief that the scientific community shouldn't turn its nose up at the study of UAPs and that it should apply the same scientific rigor to the phenomena as it does any other unexplained cosmic quantity.
In his own paper regarding the Ukrainian UAP report, Loeb says the MAO researchers misjudged the distances and locations of the objects they were analyzing, meaning they also inaccurately recorded their size and speed. In order to have recorded this data accurately, they would have had to observe the same objects from different directions, using a method called triangulation, Loeb explained in his paper.
Not only that, if the phantom objects were as large and high in the sky as the MAO researchers suggested in their paper, Loeb told LiveScience in an interview, they would have created "a giant fireball" visible from large distances. In his paper, Loeb suggested the Ukrainian researchers miscalculated the distances to the phantom objects by a factor of ten. This means they could have conceivably been artillery shells flying over active war zones in Ukraine at the time they were observed.
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