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NAVIGATION

UFO Spotted at Samudra Tapu, Himachal Pradesh, India
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Published: 9:21 AM 6/3/2013

230 177 RAMESH VINAYAK, NEW DELHI

UFO: Was it there?

Was it a spy drone from across the border? Was it a weather balloon? Was it a UFO?

Samudra Tapu, a de-glaciated valley in Himachal Pradesh; A 12-km, eight-hour trek from Chandratal, is approachable only via a 180-km deep trek from Batal, the nearest road head on the Manali-Leh highway. Kaksar, 70 km away, is the nearest inhabited town.

Tucked away high in 15,000-ft glaciated mountains, Chandratal, the only sacred lake in the Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, has for long been steeped in mythology. Legend has it that the crescent-shaped pristine water body is an abode of fairies that descend on Earth on moonlit nights.

But the glacier-bound uninhabited terrain has come to be associated with an equally incredible tale doing the rounds in India's top space and defense establishments; ”the sighting of an unidentified flying object or UFO at the Samudra Tapu region, a de-glaciated valley at an eight-hour trek from Chandratal.

More than a year after a five-member team of glaciologists and geologists had a 40-minute encounter with a balloon-shaped object straight out of The X-Files; the incident continues to baffle a section of the Indian scientific community.

Both Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the army are aware of the matter which figured even in Parliament last year when the minister of state with the Prime Minister's Office had, in a written reply, confirmed the ISRO report on the UFO sighting.

A five-member team of glaciologists and geologists spotted the UFO. It was the penultimate day of a week-long expedition undertaken by Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO on September 27, 2004.

The team comprising three SAC scientists and two geologists had pitched camp in the valley some 17,000 ft. above sea level. They were studying the Chandra basin glacier using satellite data.

Around 6.45 a.m., as the scientists were preparing to leave their tents, one of the porters spotted a white object on top of an adjacent mountain ridge, and screamed: "Sir, the snow man is coming."

Anil Kulkarni, a senior ISRO scientist who has been mapping glaciers for a quarter century, and his team members saw what appeared to be a robot floating a few inches above the ground, approaching the camp along the mountain slope. Kulkarni and his co-researcher, geologist Sunil Dhar, pulled out their digital cameras and began shooting the object even as the team raced towards the mountain to investigate.

The oblong object, between 3 and 4 ft. high, kept moving down the slope towards the team. It had a cylindrical head with two balloon-type attachments, a body, hands and two legs. It seemed to be walking, planting and pacing its steps like a human being, recalls Dhar.

It seems when the object reached the lower edge of the hill, 50 meters away from the stunned scientists, the team members’ excitement alarmed it. It stood still for a few seconds, turned and started a steep 70-degree ascent towards the ridge top.

By this time, apparently due to the rays of the rising sun, its colour had changed to black. Soon it changed to white again, hovered above the camp for five minutes before noiselessly receding into a white dot in the sky.

Ever since 1947 when businessman Kenneth Arnold sparked off a worldwide UFO mania reportedly spotting flying discs, thousands of fake sightings have been reported from across the globe.

It would have also been easy to write off the Samudra Tapu sighting as a mistaken aerial phenomenon except that it was observed and reported by a group of scientists willing to stick out their necks and reputations to swear by what they saw.

From the photographs, the UFO looks like a bunch of balloons caught in a mountain draft, but an SAC report claims the object displayed complex maneuverability. It is a riddle beyond human perception, says Dhar who, along with Kulkarni, has contacted robotic labs across the world to determine what is technologically possible in unmanned flying vehicles.

It didn't look like a man-made object, adds geologist Rajesh Kalia. Even more incredible is the photographic evidence; among the first in India for a UFO sighted on the ground of the experience classified as a close encounter of the first kind in common UFO parlance.

Was it an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on a cross-border spy mission or an extraterrestrial being? Or was it simply a helium-filled weather balloon which had lost its way? The jury is still out.

The scientists circulated the account of their close encounter in ISRO, army headquarters, Snow and Avalanche Study Establishments (SASE), an affiliate of Defence Research and Development Organisation which runs weather monitoring stations in high altitude regions, and among district authorities in Kullu. The army and SASE are the only agencies stationed in high altitude areas.

I thought it was a helium balloon, but Kulkarni's description indicates an object with ahead-of-age technology, says R.N. Sarwade, director, SASE.

Perplexed, the scientists are now wondering if it could be something man-made. But there is no known matching technology yet in the civilian realm to explain the mysterious object we saw so up close, says Kulkarni.

Over the past year, Kulkarni and Dhar have been critically examining their sighting to deconstruct the object technologically, contacting top robotic laboratories in the US, Germany and Sweden.

Kulkarni has shared his report with the director general of military operations. Efforts to demystify the Samudra Tapu UFO sighting have made little headway, given the sheer high altitude, heavy snow cover and peculiar weather conditions which render the snowbound region virtually inaccessible for both air and ground expeditions.

But the quest for demystifying the sighting has not stopped. One way to understand the mysterious object is to undertake more expeditions in the area, says Dhar.

But the question is whether the object will ever be sighted again? Unless the sighting is repeated, it will remain a puzzle, says Kulkarni. Till that happens, this is an enigma scientists may have to live with.

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2013/samudratapu.html

source & references:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/unidentified-flying-objects-ufo-sighting-in-himachal-pradesh-in-2005/1/227367.html

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