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US Defense Secretary Austin on Mystery Objects That Have Been Shot Down

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Since January, the United States has been hoovering up a series of mysterious objects that have stirred fear and confusion across North America. These include a huge white orb that flew across the country; a spy balloon destroyed off the Atlantic coast; and two smaller ones that crossed into US airspace and were ordered shot down by Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

The latest of these was shot down over Lake Huron near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Sunday, according to a senior administration official. It was an octagonal structure with strings hanging off it and a “non-military threat to anything on the ground,” but could have posed a hazard to civil aviation.

A Pentagon memo released Monday, which offers some first details on the three most recent shoot-downs, suggests that two of the objects were balloons, while a third was a tethered research vessel. They were each spotted after NORAD adjusted their radar settings to keep an eye on high-altitude disturbances after the military shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that had been traveling across US skies for a week before being destroyed off the Carolina coast, officials say.

The military is working to recover the debris from each object, but weather has slowed searches. And on Monday, the White House announced that a new government-wide task force will begin to study the unidentified flying objects. The group will include members of the State Department, Defense and National Intelligence.

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