Mystery Photo

What in the world is it?

Mystery Photo

Don’t peek at the answer until you’ve given this a good try! Then, scroll down a bit and the truth will be revealed to you.

(Image Credit: NASA)

What is this eerie form? It’s a specter of sorts — a shadow of things to come.

During its fatal reentry on February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia flew over the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico . . . and this image was snapped of the craft’s underside. The shadowy image, taken at about 7:57 a.m. Central Standard Time, shows was not snapped with cutting-edge military equipment, but by three researchers playing around on their free time with a commercially available 3 1/2-inch telescope and an 11-year-old Macintosh computer. The researchers — Major Robert Johnson, Rick Cleis, and Roger Petty — were not asked by NASA to snap the image. They just saw an opportunity to look at a rapidly moving object and try to take a picture of it. "This is the blurriest picture we’ve ever taken of anything, and this is the one that makes the front page of the newspapers," Johnson said.

Why? Well, the men said they realized their photo’s significance about 10 minutes after it was taken, after a family member called them to say the shuttle had been lost. Their image shows what appears to be a suspicious bulge on the shuttle’s wing shortly before it broke apart.