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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 8/5/2002 01:25 (Entered as : 08/05/02 01:25)
Reported: 8/6/2002 7:07:19 AM 07:07
Posted: 3/21/2003
Location: Lutsen, MN
Shape: Unknown
Duration:~2 minutes
Strobing Satellites ?

Watching the sky on the shore of Northern Lake Superior for auroras & satellites early Monday morning. Saw an early (just after sunset) bright satellite/iss…very nice. Also saw several shooting stars…very nice. As the night wore on and into the early hours of the morning, I saw a number of satellites/orbital objects. Characteristics: very very dim, some fading in and out. One object in particular caught my attention. A very dim satellite/object moving near the zenith (top) of my field of view, slowly dimming even more, then suddenly, a relatively weak strobe (bluish light, same color as object), followed several seconds later by a very very bright strobe (astoundingly bright), followed by perhaps another several strobes of various intervals/intensities. Object faded, and was very dim to begin with.

I have seen beautiful satellites before which are apparently tumbling and reflecting the light back to me in the proper manner to give me a “light house” effect…that is a rare treat. But a strobing satellite ? Do some satellites come equipped w/ strobes ? My thinking is a military spy satellite with a given wavelength HID strobe where a high gain can be applied to that wavelength to amplify the illuminated image relatively free of noise. Another theory is just an ordinary function of satellites so a ground observer can do a quick and easy visual check to verify proper functioning of the satellite (in other words, just another cheap easy, fail safe check…why not). My final theory is that it may be part of a function to freak out paranoid terrorists (and I DO HOPE it freaks them out!). Any thoughts ? This is the second time I have seen this sort of thing. The first one I ever saw was just a bit after 9-11-01, and was observed over St. Paul, MN. Looked like a satellite, and then one HUGE strobe flash (brighter than the one I saw over the lake). These objects all looked like satellites to me. Very dim, moving, tiny tiny stars, very difficult to see and follow.

((NUFORC Note: We believe the first possibility to be ruled out would be tumbling boosters and space debris, which reflects sunlight in a pulsating fashion. Just a guess. PD))