According to astronomers, a Chinese satellite “beamed green lasers” over the Hawaiian Islands. The footage was recorded by a National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. It was livestreamed atop the Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea in late January. The lasers flashed for only a few seconds, and were initially thought to be from a NASA altimeter satellite. However, a correction note was issued by the NAOJ on February 6th, stating that the most likely candidate for the source of the lasers was the ACDL. An instrument on the Chinese Daqi-1/AEMS satellite.
“It’s a Chinese satellite that is measuring pollutants, among other things,” University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy’s Roy Gal said. “It has many different instruments on it … Some kind of topographical mapping or they’re also used for measuring stuff in Earth’s atmosphere, and I think that’s what it is, environmental measurement satellite.”
There are mixed opinions on the purpose of the satellite. Some expert,s like Ray L’Heureux, former Chief of Staff of Marine Forces Pacific, are doubtful of China’s motives. “The Chinese are probably some of the most prolific polluters on the planet,” L’Heureux said.
But Is There A Risk?
Both experts believe the object is not explicitly a spy satellite. This is cataloged and known by governments around the world. “The U.S. has satellites to do the same thing, so, in this case, despite all the flurry, well deserved flurry, about Chinese spy satellites and other devices, this one is just orbiting earth and has a known orbit,” Gal said.
The footage from Mauna Kea was taken January 28th, 2023. Meaning this was prior to the recent incident where another Chinese balloon traversed over the mainland U.S. before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina. The tensions between the U.S. and China have led to concerns from experts. L’Heureux, being among those, says that people are a little antsy and that we need to be a little bit more aware and vigilant. There have been 5 separate (publicized) incidents of objects flying over the United States in 2023.
Gal, on the other hand, reassures that the Chinese satellite does not pose a risk to locals or Hawaii. “No, it’s not a risk to Hawaii or anyplace else, too. We have aircraft making these measurements all the time. If you’ve seen topographical maps with high precision, those are made using this kind of thing.”