This article was published in the daily newspaper The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, October 2, 2004.
A balloon, a spy-sat, or a UFO?
Dinesh C. Sharma
A SPACE scientist claims to have come across an unidentified flying object (UFO) during a scientific expedition in Himachal Pradesh. Dr Anil V. Kulkarni of ISRO's Space Application Centre saw the object on the morning of September 27 while leading the expedition in the Samudra Tapu glacier region near Chandratal, about 14,000 feet above sea level. Other members of the team also witnessed the unusual object.
The sighting has been reported to authorities in Kullu-Manali and New Delhi and the Ahmedabad space centre is analysing the photographs. While Kulkarni says it was unlikely that the object was a weather balloon (though it looked like one), a member of his team felt the 'UFO' could be an espionage device.
"We saw a bright white object moving towards our camp at about 7 am. It moved down the hilltop, towards the bottom. Eight persons from our party moved towards it but the object kept moving towards us. Then some porters made a noise and it started retreating in the same direction without turning around. After a while it turned and started to move towards the hilltop," said Kulkarni on his return from Manali.
He said: "The background was rocky, so we could see the white object very clearly. It was about 3 to 4 feet tall and balloons were attached to its head. One was red and the rest were white. It had what looked like two legs and looked as if it was floating a few inches above the ground."
Since it was early morning, there was mountain shadow in the region. "The moment, it came in contact with solar radiation, its colour changed to black. Then it took off vertically, and moved along the ridge for about 3-4 minutes in the southern direction. Soon, after, it its colour changed back to white and it moved towards our camp. It remained stationary overhead for 3-4 minutes and moved towards the northerly direction and disappeared," the scientist said. Kulkarni rules out the possibility of the object being an experimental balloon.
"The object moved in a slanting direction without touching the hill. It retreated the same way. It also changed colour and was moving in a direction different to that of the prevailing wind. All this suggests that the object could not have been a weather balloon."