In the interest of being fair and balanced, here’s what former NASA employee James Oberg says about the mysterious white and flashing UFOs that have consistently been seen by the cameras on various space shuttles and on the International Space Station:

The first principle of space travel is that objects coming off a vehicle tend to fly along with it.

We now return to our regularly scheduled UFO coverage.

Wait, what? Space dandruff? Isn’t NASA supposed to provide explanations that are head-and-shoulders above the rest? (You knew it was coming).

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James Oberg

James Oberg worked from 1975 to 1997 at Johnson Space Center and handled orbital rendezvous techniques for several missions. He also studied the Soviet and Russian space programs for NASA before leaving to become a journalist and historian. Sounds like good credentials to be a space object expert, right?

In a recent interview, Oberg expounded on his scientific explanations for UFOs.

Our sensory system is functioning absolutely perfectly for Earth conditions. But we're still a local civilization. Moving beyond our neighborhood has been visually confusing … it's just that out there, your visual assumptions are no longer valid.

In other words, WYSINWYG – what you see is not what you "get." Take the UFO spotted last November by many people in California that was eventually determined to be a rocket plume, a phenomenon that’s blamed for many UFO sightings. Oberg says the confusion comes from distance. What witnesses perceive to be a few miles away is actually 300 or more away, with the sun distorting the light.

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The rocket plume formerly known as a UFO

Another Oberg explanation for shuttle and ISS UFOs is shadows. When the sun is behind them, spacecrafts have nothing to cast their shadows on until some tiny “object” passes in front of it, causing the “object” to alternately turn bright, disappear, reappear and twinkle again as the craft, the sun and the object move.

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Oberg says flashing lights such as these are caused by shadows

Those “objects” are what Oberg calls “space dandruff.” He feels all can be explained as ice crystals, insulation, debris and other tiny pieces of space stuff that were once on the spacecraft and are now floating in front of cameras and windows. Since they’re so tiny and moving between sunlight and shadows, they can’t be conclusively identified, but Oberg is certain they’re “space dandruff.”

Oberg says he’s not trying to say UFOs don’t exist, just that what we’ve seen so far isn’t of alien origin. He also doesn’t believe NASA or the federal government is hiding anything about UFOs.

What do you think? Is James Oberg just a dedicated space scientist trying to help people understand what they’re seeing in space? Or is he an agent trying to distract us from the truth?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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