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Sun Apr 20 05:37:00 SAST 2014

Crop circle conundrum

NIVASHNI NAIR | 14 August, 2013 07:25
ALIENS? A crop circle, about 50m in diameter, was spotted on the outskirts of a farm near Tarlton, West Rand, on Monday.
Image by: WYNAND KEMP

Aliens, satellites or a prankster. A crop circle near Tarlton, West Rand, has baffled a Gauteng farmer and a security company.

Rudie Fett discovered the crop circle on the outskirts of his 4ha farm on Monday.

"I cannot understand how it got there because it would take some time for the grass to be flattened and it wasn't there last week," he said.

Though Fett does not believe that little green men are responsible for the crop circle - which resembles cartoon character Ben 10's omnitrix watch, which turns him into alien creatures - he is not ignoring the unanswered questions.

"There is only one road, which passes my house, to get to this area. We would have seen a car go by. How did the pranksters get here?

"The security company cannot find any tracks. It is concerning because it means someone has been on my farm."

Wynand Kemp and his father were flying over Fett's farm on Sunday when they spotted the crop circle.

"I became very intrigued because it didn't look like humans could have made it because it is quite big. It's about 50m in diameter. I got my father to fly closer so I could take more photographs. I really would like to know how it was done."

Orbital Horizon CEO and space surveillance expert Brad Inggs' first conjecture was that the crop circle had been created as a mark against which an orbiting satellite's imaging systems could be calibrated.

But such satellite calibration, he said, would not be attempted without the landowner's permission.

Satellite imaging systems need a stable target on which to train their sensors for re-calibration. The sensors pick up a wide range of electromagnetic radiation, ranging from the infrared to the ultra-violet. Satellite data are used in weather prediction, agriculture and in assessing natural disasters.

Last week, the UK's The Daily Telegraph reported that most scientists agree that crop circles are made by people using tools such as ropes, ladders and planks to flatten the crops. The British newspaper also reported the retirement of an infamous crop-circle creator - because of hay fever.

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Sun Apr 20 05:37:00 SAST 2014 ::