Today in things a third-grader probably could have figured out, it reportedly took the Indian Army six months to realize that the “Chinese aerial drones” they believed were surveilling them were actually a couple of planets.
Between August 2012 and February 2013, the Indian Army’s forces stationed on the heavily disputed India-China border recorded 329 sightings of “unidentified flying intruders,” which defense analysts feared were “unmanned aerial vehicles [used] by the Chinese to look into Indian territory.” Yes, the Himalayan Border’s been rife with territorial turmoil for over fifty years, but come on: did nobody think it was glaringly un-strategic on the part of China that the objects appeared daily at completely regular intervals, and were easily the brightest objects in the night sky?
Astronomers were called in to investigate the situation, and probably sighed with relief (or lolz-ed extensively) at their findings: the objects were just Jupiter and Venus. The “objects” had appeared to be “flying” because the Earth was just, you know, rotating—as it’s known to do from time to time. Good work, team.
“Our task was to determine whether these unidentified objects were celestial or terrestrial,” said senior astronomer Tushar Prabhu.
Who knows what might have happened if astronomers hadn’t cleared up the confusion? Perhaps G.S. Mudur of Calcutta’s The Telegraph puts it best:
“Phew! Science has saved a Roman god and a goddess from possible Armageddon launched from the Earth by the mighty Indian Army, egged on by TV studio patriots always keeping a gimlet eye open for Chinese intruders.”
Sorry, what? Whatever—crisis averted.