The skies above our heads are littered with man-made satellites. These objects criss-cross the lower atmosphere, offering around the world communication, real-time views of what is going on down below, or simply as debris left below from defunct missions.
Almost all of these satellites are the same. They are small, largely autonomous devices which, once launched and maneuvered into position, coast along on unvarying orbits. They are boosted into place, they do their jobs, and then they eventually fall to earth again.
And then there is USA-207, launched in 2009 and mysteriously named “Palladium at Night”. This doesn’t behave like a normal satellite, at all, and the https://www.historicmysteries.com/history/retractable-capitol-dome/26892/US government refuses to say anything about its operations.
Palladium at Night
So what do we actually know about this strange satellite, apart from the poetic name? Well, not very much at all.
We know that it was constructed based on a more or less off-the-shelf chassis from Lockheed Martin, that it took two and a half years to build, and that it launched in September 2009. We know it is a SIGINT (signals intelligence) satellite, meaning it operates within the sphere of data retrieval and monitoring. And that is honestly about it.
The US Government has classified almost every other detail about Palladium at Night. One would ordinarily believe that such a precaution would suggest a military operator, as only they usually have the need for secrecy and the operational requirement for such a craft.
However there are interesting clues that point elsewhere. Following the enormous security breach precipitated by Edward Snowden, some hints as to USA-207’s owners came to light. Not the US military, but the NSA.
This would make sense as well, as the NSA are primarily tasked with global monitoring and that is what satellites ordinarily do. But the NSA operates several satellites, none of which are cloaked in the kind of secrecy which surrounds Palladium at Night.
What remains is guesswork. But there are clues in what we can observe from the satellite itself. You see, unlike almost every other satellite in orbit, Palladium at Night has not stayed still.
On the contrary, this satellite can maneuver. And on at least nine occasions in the first five years following its launch it has been observed to do so, each time adjusting its trajectory to bring it close to another commercial satellite.
Why does Palladium at Night shoot around the sky from one satellite to another. Is it interfering with these satellites? Eavesdropping? Such activities would be well within the remit of the NSA.
After this initial flurry of activity, Palladium at Night ceased its unusual movement and remained on a fixed trajectory from 2013. However, in 2021 it moved again. It now drifts slowly eastwards, but whether it continues in its classified mission, and even what that mission is, remains unknown.
One final thing is worth mentioning. The name, “Palladium at Night”, seems oddly whimsical, a gothic flourish from a usually po-faced government. In what official documents the public can see (the NASA launch information, for one), this is generally shortened to “PAN”.
Perhaps PAN stands for something else as well. And perhaps in solving this riddle we may understand the true nature of Palladium at Night.
Top Image: The US Government has not released any details as to the mission of USA-207, or even what the name “Palladium at Night” means. Source: Dashu83 / Adobe Stock.
By Joseph Green