Archive for June, 2021

The release last week of the Department of Defense Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force has whipped up a blend of reactions from UFO groups to individuals in military, academic and scientific circles.

Labeled as “preliminary,” the unclassified 9-page report was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in response to a request by Congress to assess the threat posed by Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs for short.

Credit: Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU)

There were those breathing hard awaiting compelling proof that aliens are here, buzzing through Earth’s airspace while chalking up extraterrestrial mileage points. While the report falls short on that score, what UAPs truly represent remains a head-scratcher.
 reached out to a number of individuals for their take-away messages in reading the UAP Task Force report.

Go to my new story “Up in the air! US government’s UFO report stirs range of reactions” at:

Credit: CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) released on Sunday new photos and videos captured by China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 during the country’s first landing and roving exploration on the red planet.

Credit: CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Parachute opening and descending process of the landing rover, the sound of the rover Zhurong leaving the landing platform and its moving process on the Mars’ surface, the perception image of the red planet’s environment, and the ruts of the rover.

Credit: CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“When we were designing, we wanted to obtain some visual states of the rover, which could be used as a basis for further improvement of the project. Then we designed several parts, including the process of opening the parachute, releasing the canopy and descending,” Rao Wei, deputy chief designer of the Tianwan-1 Probe told China Central Television (CCTV).

Credit: CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The Zhurong rover drove down from its landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“According to the telemetry, we can see that the landing point is only three kilometers away from our designed position. In general, the landing position is very accurate and the control system is very good,” said Rao.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Scientific payloads

At present, the rover Zhurong has been working on the red planet’s surface for 42 Martian days, traveling 236 meters in total, and the orbiter and rover are in good working condition.

“At present, we have a total of six scientific payloads on the Mars rover. Now all of them are on and working normally. I also hope that foreign scientists will join us to do research together and to achieve more results,” said Liu Jizhong, deputy commander of China’s first Mars exploration program.

Credit: CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China’s Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The lander carrying the rover touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15.







Go to these newly released videos focused on China’s Mars mission at:

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” – Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.

Today’s release of the Pentagon’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force offers these unclassified messages:

“The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) hampers our ability to draw irm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP.”

The UAP Task Force considered a range of information on UAP described in U.S. military and Intelligence Community reporting, but because the reporting lacked sufficient specificity ultimately recognized that a unique, tailored reporting process was required to provide sufficient data for analysis of UAP events.

Credit: Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU)

Reports: 2004-2021

The UAP Task Force concentrated its review on reports that occurred between 2004 and 2021, the majority of which are a result of a new tailored process to better capture UAP events through formalized reporting.

Most of the UAP reported probably do represent physical objects given that a majority of UAP were registered across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers, and visual observation.

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Unusual flight characteristics

In a limited number of incidents, UAP reportedly appeared to exhibit unusual flight characteristics. These observations could be the result of sensor errors, spoofing, or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis.

There are probably multiple types of UAP requiring different explanations based on the range of appearances and behaviors described in the available reporting. Our analysis of the data supports the construct that if and when individual UAP incidents are resolved they will fall into one of five potential explanatory categories: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, U.S. government or U.S. industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, and a catchall “other” bin.

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Safety of flight issue

UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security. Safety concerns primarily center on aviators contending with an increasingly cluttered air domain.

UAP would also represent a national security challenge if they are foreign adversary collection platforms or provide evidence a potential adversary has developed either a breakthrough or disruptive technology.

Consistent consolidation of reports from across the federal government, standardized reporting, increased collection and analysis, and a streamlined process for screening all such reports against a broad range of relevant U.S. government data will allow for a more sophisticated analysis of UAP that is likely to deepen our understanding. Some of these steps are resource-intensive and would require additional investment.

Credit: MUFON

Different explanations

The UAP Task Force report says that multiple types of UAP require different explanations:

Airborne Clutter: These objects include birds, balloons, recreational unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or airborne debris like plastic bags that muddle a scene and affect an operator’s ability to identify true targets, such as enemy aircraft.

Natural Atmospheric Phenomena: Natural atmospheric phenomena includes ice crystals, moisture, and thermal fluctuations that may register on some infrared and radar systems.

U.S. Government or Industry Developmental Programs: Some UAP observations could be attributable to developments and classified programs by U.S. entities. The task force was unable to confirm, however, that these systems accounted for any of the UAP reports they collected.

Foreign Adversary Systems: Some UAP may be technologies deployed by China, Russia, another nation, or a non-governmental entity

Other: Although most of the UAP described in our dataset probably remain unidentified due to limited data or challenges to collection processing or analysis, we may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of them. We would group such objects in this category pending scientific advances that allowed us to better understand them. The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management.

For the full UAP report, go to:

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China’s space station crew is set to carry out its first spacewalk.

An EVA spacesuit has been taken out of the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft and installed it in the node module of the Tianhe core module of China’s space station.

“The taikonauts will start extravehicular activities in 10 days or so. The ground personnel have already completed preliminary testing and control of the robotic arm in orbit, said Sun Jun, director of the space station mission of the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“The taikonauts will conduct drills on extravehicular missions by collaborating with the robotic arm. It is very complicated to coordinate the work of taikonauts, the robotic arm, the space station and ground personnel. So we have to conduct such drills and tests,” said Sun in a June 23 released China Central Television (CCTV) video.

The EVA spacesuit weighs 265-pounds (120 kilograms). It has only one model, which can be adjusted to the size suiting all taikonauts.

The Tianhe core module, the first and main component of the China Space Station, has two propulsion systems: chemical propulsion that creates thrust from chemical reactions between solid or liquid propellants, and Hall-effect thrusters that generate thrust by accelerating ions using electricity.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Two propulsion systems

The Shenzhou-12 crew on board the in-construction China orbital facility are astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo. They are scheduled to conduct two extravehicular activities during their three-month mission.

The Tianhe core module, the first and main component of the China Space Station, has two propulsion systems: chemical propulsion that creates thrust from chemical reactions between solid or liquid propellants, and Hall-effect thrusters that generate thrust by accelerating ions using electricity.

Unboxing packages

Crew members have been busily setting up their home-away-from home, unboxing packages shipped to the station’s Tianhe core module earlier by the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft.

Tianzhou-2 took propellants and over 160 bags, totaling about seven tons, to support the work and dietary needs of the orbiting crew, including living materials, two extravehicular spacesuits and payloads.

With so much packaging to be removed and sorted out, the astronauts are being aided by an intelligent cargo management system.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

QR code

Each item has a QR code. After scanning, shows operating guidelines on a mobile terminal, including what the goods are, their functions, where they should be put or installed, and how to use them.

Next time they need an item, the astronauts can type in the code to find it.

Also, the data on how much cargo is left and the location can be transmitted simultaneously to ground control, according to Li Zhihui, deputy commander-in-chief of the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft system with the China Academy of Space Technology.

“The intelligent system enables both the astronauts and the ground crew to know clearly where the materials are in the space station, ensuring an efficient cargo management,” Li said in a CCTV interview.

A set of new videos detailing EVA preparations, unpacking, and the propulsion system of the Tianhe core module can be viewed at:

Credit: Dhari/Szczepanek

If you are waiting for the Pentagon Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) Task Force, here’s a way to prepare yourself: A UFO Travel Calculator.

Rahul Dhari, a mechanical engineer and aviation enthusiast, teamed up with Anna Szczepanek, holder of a PhD in mathematics to create the calculator.  You can become an aircraft designer and produce your own UFO and see its performance. You will also be able to see how fast your UFO can reach a chosen destination, and even take part in UFO racing.

Frontier science and engineering

“I believe that my calculator can help in treating the UFO issue less in terms of sci-fi and more as an issue at the frontier of science and engineering,” Dhari told Inside Outer Space.

This type of UFO was seen over the Atlantic Ocean, near Virginia Beach, Virginia (United States) in 2004.
Credit: Dhari/Szczepanek

The site also includes an informative table of contents:

  • The story of UFOs
  • Components of an aircraft design process
  • How to design your UFO?
  • Designing your UFO
  • Snowball effect and tips for extracting maximum velocity
  • Why haven’t we built these yet?
  • UFO/UAPs — Hoax or truth? What happens next?

“This week, the Pentagon is about to release its report on UFOs and millions of people (including me) are excited for it,” Dhari added. “This inspired me to build the UFO Travel Calculator that allows you to design your own UFO and see its performance.”

The UFO Travel Calculator is available at:

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA




NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken a second look at China’s Zhurong rover, now rolling across southern Utopia Planitia.

The Chinese Tianwen-1 mission landed on the Red Planet on May 14, 2021.

NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) image from June 6 shows China’s rover.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

China’s Zhurong rover wheels to the south, clearly shown in this June 11 image acquired by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona



Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab






Using the NASA spacecraft’s powerful High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera system, images of the landing zone were acquired on June 6 and June 11. The landing site remains clearly colored from removal of Martian dust during landing.  In comparing the two images, movement of the Zhurong rover toward the south can be seen.

Liu Jianjun, chief designer of the ground application system of the Tianwen-1 probe, recently told the China Global Television Network (CGTN): “We selected this particular direction for several reasons. The altitude picks up that way, from the ancient Martian ocean to land. And that’s also where we’ll come across some of the most interesting things we care about, like mud volcanoes and sub-surface ice.”


Credit: Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU)

The U.S. Department of Defense is set to release this month insights from a specially-created Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force. It was established to provide insight into the nature and origins of purported aerial objects, primarily reported by Navy personnel that exhibit aerial actions tough to explain.

The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.

Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Meanwhile, boosted to stratospheric heights are “I told you so” believers that have long-advocated Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are skimming through our skies, piloted by extraterrestrials that are chalking up interplanetary frequent flyer mileage points in the process.

However, are UAPs doing a disservice to UFOs – are they really one in the same phenomenon?

For more information, please go to my new story

“Skies alive with UFOs? Government report on mysterious sightings due soon” at:

Credits: NASA/Greg Shirah

The chances that life took hold on Mars are at least as high as they were on Earth.

A new research paper notes: “Although the habitability of early Mars is now well established, its suitability for conditions favorable to an independent origin of life has been less certain. With continued exploration, evidence has mounted for a widespread diversity of physical and chemical conditions on Mars that mimic those variously hypothesized as settings in which life first arose on Earth.”

Credit: Clark, Kolb, et al.

Early wet Mars remains a prime candidate for its own origin of life, in many respects superior to Earth, the paper explains.

The research paper – “Origin of Life on Mars: Suitability and Opportunities” — is led by Benton Clark and Vera Kolb and appears in the journal Life.

Go to this open access article — Origin of Life on Mars: Suitability and Opportunities – in Life, an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal of scientific studies related to fundamental themes in life sciences at:

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a professor at the Technical University Berlin, Germany, and an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University and Washington State University reviews the new paper in Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine.

There remains the real possibility that life started first on Mars, and was brought here by meteorites later, adds Schulze-Makuch at:

Credit: CCTV

China’s three-person Shenzhou-12 crew is busy at work after spending a night in the Tianhe core module. Chinese astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Yang Hongbo installed Wifi on Friday morning.

In a China Central Television (CCTV) interview, Sun Jun, deputy director of the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center said the space trio are setting up various facilities needed, including those for telecommunication, living, cooking and sanitation purposes. Doing so, the crew is laying a basic logistic foundation for long-term, on-orbit life, added Sun.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“The network in space is connected with the network on Earth. After the Wi-Fi facility is installed, astronauts can communicate smoothly and even have video calls with engineers and with their family members on Earth,” said Sun.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The crew is unpacking the daily necessities from the cargo ship and is moving more equipment to the core module, tasks that are expected to take about a week. The crew will later carry out space science experiments and on-orbit training, especially to prepare for space walking activities, Sun said.

Credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Spacious home

“I’m envious of their spacious home,” said Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut to travel into space, congratulating the astronauts of the Shenzhou-12 spaceship upon entering the country’s space station core module.

Shenzhou-12 is China’s seventh crewed mission to space and the first to initiate hands-on construction of China’s space station to be completed late next year.

The Tianzhou-3 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-13 manned spaceship will also be launched later this year to dock with Tianhe, and another three astronauts will then begin a six-month stay in orbit, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). Based on project plans, the Tianzhou-3 cargo ship will be launched in September to dock with Tianhe, and in October, a Shenzhou-13 three-person team will fly to the module to stay there for six months.

Robotic arm helps on space station construction.
Credit: CCTV/CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

After the five launch missions this year, China plans to have six more missions, including the launch of the Wentian and Mengtian lab modules, two cargo spacecraft and two crewed spaceships in 2022, to complete the construction of the space station.

One of China’s most adventurous space endeavors, the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) space station will consist of three main components — a core module attached to two space labs — with a combined weight of nearly 70 metric tons. The entire station is set to work for about 15 years.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Rescue backup

As crews are expected to stay in space for three to six months, there’s a backup rocket and spacecraft ready on the launch pad.

According to Shao Limin, Deputy Technological Manager of the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft at the China Academy of Space Technology, Chinese space engineers are preparing Shenzhou-13 as a backup spacecraft for the Shenzhou-12 space mission, in order to better guarantee astronauts’ safety in the case of any in-space emergency.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“Shenzhou-13 has been transferred to the launch pad as the backup emergency ship at the same time as we transferred Shenzhou-12,” Shao told CCTV. “If Shenzhou-12 encounters any major problem, “we can launch Shenzhou-13 without crew within 10 days for rescue.”

New videos of space station operations are available from China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA), as well as New China TV/GLOBALink at:

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover at Jezero Crater is finding a treasure-trove of geological activity. Scientists believe the area was once flooded with water and was home to an ancient river delta.

One major assignment for the rover is exploring for signs of fossilized microbial life.

The robot has imaged “unusual” rocks, and it remains unclear whether these rocks are sedimentary or volcanic.

Mars Perseverance Right Mastcam-Z Camera image acquired on June 13, 2021 (Sol 112). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Multiple hypotheses

“We still have multiple working hypotheses, sedimentary and/or igneous, on the types of rocks we are seeing,” says James W. Rice, Jr. of the Mars 2020 Rover Mastcam-Z Science Team at Arizona State University in Tempe.

“There has been no conclusive evidence thus far, but as we continue to bring our whole science payload into use we will figure this out. We have not done any contact science yet but rather have been using remote sensing at this point,” Rice tells Inside Outer Space

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Delta deposit

It’s all very nice looking data, but it is a little early to tell much, adds John Mustard in the Department of Earth Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

“What I can say is that they have imaged a rock outcrop that looks all-the-world like a delta deposit with flat lying topset with sloping foreset beds,” Mustard says. A foreset bed is one of the main parts of a river delta.

As for volcanism at Jezero Crater, “volcanism is a good partner for microbial life, depending on how they interact, but volcanism can produce warm, nutrient rich waters that microbes adore,” Mustard told Inside Outer Space.

Dust devil: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Left Mastcam-Z camera, acquired on June 15, 2021 (Sol 114).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU