On the live stream from the Falcon Heavy's payload (The Tesla car with dummy) an object appears to be visible between the car and the planet, what is it?

enter image description here

The object is visible in the right hand side of the windshield, to the right of the camera mount. It's also visible in the stream here:

The link is timestamped to 19 minutes and 39 seconds, where the object is visible.

  • $\begingroup$ smoke plume from a volcano? $\endgroup$
    – lamont
    Feb 6, 2018 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ can you find a video feed and timestamp - I couldn't see anything around 16-17 minutes in on that one. $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Feb 6, 2018 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I eyeballed that timestamp from the backwards readout on the stream not realizing I could link a specific time, I've updated the link in the question, it was actually about 19 minutes 30 seconds. $\endgroup$
    – user22919
    Feb 6, 2018 at 22:39
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    $\begingroup$ @IlmariKaronen It appears to pan across the view in perfect sync with the Earth's surface, so I'm pretty sure it's a surface or atmospheric feature. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2018 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ @IlmariKaronen If it was an object between the camera and Earth, forward of the hood of the car, moving sideways at that apparent rate, not approaching or receding significantly (because not changing size), then this would be pretty much its closest approach to the stage, i.e. it could not have come from the stage. Between that and the fact that it's not tumbling at all... $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2018 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


It's the island of New Caledonia.

It appears to be fixed relative to the earth's surface and it must be somewhere east of Australia as the second stage is currently flying eastwards over Australia. We can see it twice: Once in the frame you posted, and once 14 minutes later (even though @IlmariKaronen says otherwise in the comments, it's still visible):

enter image description here

Here is the same view on Google Earth:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, but Mountains of New Guinea are twice as high, they would make bigger shadow... And this one is much too dark. Looks more like object floating in the air. ( In case its not effect of camera picture processing ,contrast ) $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2018 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MilosKrsmic topography can trigger cloud formation, and the clouds can be much higher in some cases than the topography. It's hard to tell in this case, but that's what may be producing the visual impression of height (also see this comment). Still, it does look a little weird. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 8, 2018 at 14:31

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