Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner has captured some truly amazing views of Earth from above as seen from the International Space Station, but his latest video of auroras included an unexpected surprise: five bright lights on the horizon that he dubbed 'space guests.'
They're likely satellites, not aliens, but still amazing to see for sure. The most likely culprit is the Starlink broadband satellites SpaceX launched on Tuesday (Aug. 18), a day before Vagner shared his video, although that has not yet been confirmed.
"In the video, you will see something else, not only the aurora," Vagner said on Twitter. Indeed, at the 9- to 12-second mark, a group of lights quickly shows in the video before disappearing.
"5 objects appear flying alongside with the same distance," the Expedition 63 crew member wrote. "What do you think those are? Meteors, satellites or ...?"
Space guests, or how I filmed the new time-lapse.The peak of aurora borealis when passing over the Antarctic in Australia’s longitude, meaning in between them. However, in the video, you will see something else, not only the aurora. pic.twitter.com/Hdiej7IbLUAugust 19, 2020
Vagner added that he has told Russia's space agency Roscosmos of the objects.
Roscosmos officials highlighted Vagner's video on Twitter, retweeting it with the message: "An interesting and at the same time mysterious video made by the cosmonaut of Roscosmos Ivan Vagner (@ivan_mks63) from the International Space Station."
"It is too early to make conclusions until our Roscosmos researchers and scientists at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences tell us what they think," said Roscosmos spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko in the TASS report. "It was decided to hand over those materials to experts, who will tell us what that was in their opinion."
But again – don't jump to the conclusion it's aliens. Satellites are the most likely answer. And it's something astronauts on the International Space Station have seen before.
Back in April, station astronauts spotted a train of Starlink satellites that look very similar to this set of lights.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.