"Best UFO Photo Ever" Gets A High-Resolution Makeover


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

The Lake Cote image.
There are a number of problems to overcome, but in theory, the operation should be possible. Image Credit: Natalia Deriabina/

One of the most convincing UFO images from the 20th century has been given a high-res make-over, revitalizing discussion around what has been dubbed “the finest image of a UFO ever made public”. 

Known as the Lake Cote image, the photograph was taken from an airplane on the morning of September 4, 1971 by a team from the National Geographic Institute of Costa Rica studying the potential impact of a hydroelectric project that was being planned around the Arenal Volcano.


Unbeknownst to the photographers at the time, the image of an unusual metallic disk-shaped object was captured in the corner of one of their frames. The nature of the unusual object has been furiously debated over the years: some say it’s a hoax, some say it’s an optical illusion — and, of course, others say it’s a flying saucer. 

A handful of researchers have studied the photograph over the years, publishing reports about it in 1989 and 1990, concluding that the photograph contains “no evidence of optical defects, deliberate hoax, or support for other prosaic explanations.” However, not everyone has been convinced. 

In the latest chapter of the story, the team from UAPMedia UK recently got their hands on a high-resolution drum scanned version of the image. 

Ufo high res
Comparison of the old and new crops of the infamous Lake Cote UFO.  Image credit: Instituto Geográfico Nacional de Costa Rica, high res version courtesy of UAPMedia UK 

According to UAPMedia UK, Esteban Carranza from Costa Rico was given a “contact” copy of the original negative found in the National Archives of Costa Rica when his uncle passed away last year. After discussing the image with Sergio Loaiza, the technician who snapped the pictured, Carranza sent the image to a photo laboratory in Kansas where it was subject to a drum scanner, a kind of high precision digital camera that can scan images at an extremely high resolution. 


The high-resolution version of the image can be freely downloaded here.

Speaking about the renovated Lake Cote image, commentators have said it still doesn’t fully settle the debate about what was truly captured over the Costa Rican volcano. Nevertheless, they hope it could respark discussion around other images or videos of unidentified aerial phenomena. 

"It's a really intriguing photograph, and one which totally captures the imagination. I'm always impressed as to how ‘right’  it looks. As to its veracity, though, I can't say, but I'd love it to be true. It definitely looks a lot more convincing than a lot of other images I've seen over the years,” Graeme Rendall, author of UFOs Before Roswell and Flying Saucer Fever, told UAPMedia UK.

“Historic images like this one from Costa Rica still have stories to tell, and new insights are sometimes just around the corner. If we can socially democratize and crowdsource our search for answers we will arrive closer to the truth than if we simply wait for further confirmation from our governments," added Jeremy Corbell, documentary filmmaker and UFOlogist. " I’m elated higher fidelity imagery continues to emerge, especially when it allows us to get a glimpse into our UFO past.” 


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