Aliens and Balloons? Unidentifiable Objects Seen in North American Skies

Though the phrase “UFO” may bring images of aliens or science fiction to mind, in reality, the term is more general, referring to any unknown aerial vehicle or object. Just in the month of February, four unidentified flying objects were shot down across the United States.  

Growth in Detection Systems

Time Magazine explained that agencies like the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), upgraded their detection systems to detect slower-moving objects in addition to the fast-moving objects such as missiles they have looked out for in the past. This new detection system resulted  in the identification of four objects this month.

The Objects

The first object, an alleged spy balloon from China, was shot down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4. CBS News asserted that it was around the size of the Statue of Liberty and contained equipment that could potentially collect communication from the ground. Since it was shot over the water, dive teams worked to recover the debris and analyze it. A large portion was recovered; however, it took a number of days because of potential weather hazards off the coast. After recovering the debris, the United States can begin to analyze and understand the capabilities of the vehicle. President Biden expressed his intention to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the incident, though China continues to claim that the balloon was intended for weather detection purposes.  

Due to public concern about the Chinese balloon, NORAD adjusted their systems to detect even smaller items, thus paving the way for more objects to be observed and shot down over the following weeks. This began on Feb. 10, when an object was shot down over Alaska. The following day, another was shot down over Canada after discussion and mutual agreement by Biden and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The most recent was shot down over Lake Huron on Feb. 12. At this point, the search for debris for these three has been called off due to lack of success and safe weather conditions.

The Outcome According to CBS News, President Biden spoke on these recent events and assured the crowd that “Nothing right now suggests [the other three items] were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from … any other country.” While the final three items likely belonged to private institutions or clubs, the increased awareness from the initial unidentified object detection has left many suspicious. The thought of UFOs in our very own atmosphere has raised attention across the United States and North America.

Balloon floating over Billings, MT on Feb. 1, 2023. (Photo credits: Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

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