A helicopter crew who were on a mission counting sheep have spotted a mysterious monolith in the middle of the desert in Utah.
The shiny metal tower was spotted in the US state’s red desert, evoking scenes from sci-fi movies such as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
It was discovered by a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep conducted by the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources on 18 November.
They landed next to the smooth, tall structure to take a look, and take a break from their work.
They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together.
But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the red rocks or why.
“This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety.
Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10 to 12-foot monolith and embed it in the rock.
The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued.
Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorisation.
Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it.