UFOs? Balloons? Spy Cams? Here’s What’s Going On

12:09 minutes

a zoomed in image of a deflated white balloon in the sky, and a fighter jet zooms by off to its left
A Chinese surveillance balloon shot down over South Carolina on February 4, 2023. Credit: Shutterstock

This week, the saga over UFOs, balloons, and spyware continues. The drama all started with a Chinese surveillance balloon, and then—one by one—governments kept finding others in the U.S. and Canada.

Earlier this week, President Biden announced, “We don’t know yet exactly what these three objects were. But nothing right now suggests they are related to China’s spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from any other country.”

So what do we know about these balloons? And why is this such a big deal all of a sudden?

Casey Crownhart, climate reporter at the MIT Technology Review, joins Ira to discuss the hullabaloo surrounding these flying objects and other science news of the week. They also talk about the outbreak of Marburg virus in Equatorial Guinea, Tesla agreeing to open some charging stations to other EV drivers, the startups trying to remove methane from the air, what a pencil-shaped robot taught scientists about the Thwaites Glacier, known as the “Doomsday Glacier,” and why researchers modeled a new camera after cuttlefish eyes.

Segment Guests

Casey Crownhart

Casey Crownhart is a climate reporter for MIT Technology Review in New York, New York.

Segment Transcript

The transcript is being processed. It will be available the week after the segment airs.

Meet the Producers and Host

About Rasha Aridi

Rasha Aridi is a producer for Science Friday. She loves stories about weird critters, science adventures, and the intersection of science and history.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

Explore More