Television: UFOs and Star Trek

Image (Credit): Promotion for UFOs: Investigating the Unknown. (National Geographic)

With all the ongoing media chatter about unidentified flying objects (UFO), National Geographic has perfect timing with its new series UFOs: Investigating the Unknown. The new series started on February 13th. You can watch it on Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+.

National Geographic promises that this new five-part series will explore the government’s decades long investigations into UFOs. It seems those investigations just expanded into new areas with the U.S. Air Force recently firing missiles at objects in Canada and the United States. Maybe the new series can help to explain some of these sightings.

If the whole UFO issue has bored you, then tag along with Captain Picard for the third and last season of Star Trek: Picard. The series returned on February 16th. You get to see some of your old favorites joining the cast this season, including Geordi La Forge, Worf, William Riker, Dr. Beverly Crusher, and Deanna Troi.

Here is the basic plot from Paramount+:

In the epic, thrilling conclusion of Star Trek: Picard, a desperate message from a long-lost friend draws Starfleet legend Admiral Jean-Luc Picard into the most daring mission of his life, forcing him to recruit allies spanning generations old and new. This final adventure sets him on a collision course with the legacy of his past and explosive, new revelations that will alter the fate of the Federation forever.

I know, the plot reads like a cover letter on a resume promising everything. That said, I think I will start with Star Trek: Picard and continue to follow UFOs in the daily news. That will be enough drama for me these days.

Image (Credit): Promotional poster for Star Trek: Picard’s third season. (Paramount+)

Space Quote: What are We Shooting at?

Image (Credit): Weather balloon. (

“We don’t yet know exactly what these three objects were.  But nothing — nothing right now suggests they were related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other — any other country. The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”

-Statement by President Biden at a February 16, 2023 press conference regarding the shooting down of three balloons after the destruction of a Chinese spy balloon. The Guardian later reported that an Illinois amateur ballooning club was contacted by the FBI about its $13 weather balloon that was last seen in Canada’s Yukon territory.

The White House Admits UFO but Denies ET

Image (Credit): White House briefing podium. (TVNewsCheck)

With a third unidentified object (aka UFO) shot down from the northern skies, the White House thought it was necessary to set the record straight earlier today. According to Politico, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made the administration’s position very clear:

I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no — again no indication — of aliens or extraterrestrial activity with these recent takedowns…I wanted to make sure that the American people knew that, all of you knew that and it was important for us to say that from here because we’ve been hearing a lot about it.

It seems Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, was not as quick denying an extraterrestrial origin during a Sunday interview, stating:

I’ll let the intel community and the counterintelligence community figure that out. I haven’t ruled out anything.

We have enough problems with the Russians and Chinese without some pesky aliens getting in the way. Talk about timing!

Rest assured that the White House is on top of it.

Update: I just hope that we are not shooting down our own space objects. In a February 14th article, The New York Times reported that the National Weather Service alone launches about 60,000 high-flying balloons annually. When you add NASA balloons and others from U.S. departments, you can only hope that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Internationally, we may need the World Meteorological Organization and other international bodies to help sort out the clutter in the lower atmosphere.

Chinese Balloon: An Identified Flying Object

Image (Credit): Chinese balloon and jet airplane sharing the sky over North Carolina. (The Dallas Morning News)

It is not clear why China chose to test the U.S. this past week with a surveillance balloon, but it ended yesterday with the Air Force shooting down the device. These Chinese balloons have been seen all over the world, and this is not the first time they have visited the U.S. (having been sighted under the last president as well). What a balloon can do that a satellite cannot is somewhat unclear at the moment, and whether this action this puts our own surveillance craft observing China’s territory at risk is anyone’s guess.

It is unlikely this was an innocent error on the part of the Chinese, though the head of the China Meteorological Administration was fired anyway. NASA was even called in to give it opinion on the balloon, which makes sense given NASA’s experience with Earth-monitoring balloons.

And what about the U.S. Space Force? Would this fall under their jurisdiction? Does the Air Force end and the Space Force begin so many miles up?

The Space Force posted a press release on the balloon incidence, but was silent about its role in the matter. On its website, the Space Force seems to rely on the U.S. Air Force for quite a bit:

As a new military service, the U.S. Space Force will leverage the Department of the Air Force for more than 75 percent of its enabling functions to significantly reduce cost and avoid duplication. The Department of the Air Force will provide support functions that includes logistics, base operating support, IT support, audit agencies, etc. 

Maybe that support includes the necessary muscle to take down balloons.

It is somewhat amusing that all these years the government has been saying UFO sightings related to silly, harmless “weather balloons,” and now we are sending military fighter jets to take on threatening “weather balloons.” We are living in strange times.

Image (Credit): A NASA Super Pressure Balloon just before launch from Wanaka, New Zealand. (NASA)

Space Quote: More From Uncle Sam on UFOs (or UAPs)

Credit: Getty/The Atlantic

“Since the publication of the ODNI preliminary assessment in June 2021, UAP reporting has increased, partially due to a concentrated effort to destigmatize the topic of UAP and instead recognize the potential risks that it poses as both a safety of flight hazard and potential adversarial activity. Whereas there were previously 144 UAP reports covered during the 17 years of UAP reporting included in the ODNI preliminary assessment on UAP, there have been 247 more UAP reports during the 17 months since. Combined with another 119 reports either discovered or reported late that fell within the original 17 year period but were not included in the preliminary assessment, a total of 510 UAP reports are currently catalogued.”

-Statement from the 2022 Annual Report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), published earlier this week by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). It seems that with greater awareness comes greater reporting, but that does not necessarily equate with green aliens. What is interesting is the source of these reports. They are not your neighbor standing on his deck in his pajamas. Instead, we read, “The majority of new UAP reporting originates from U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force aviators and operators who witnessed UAP during the course of their operational duties…” Very interesting.