The Oumuamua Spaceship; Interstellar Asteroid or Alien Probe?
Two months ago, a cigar-shaped object sped past Earth at an incredible rate, before being catapulted to the outer reaches of the solar system by the Sun’s gravitational pull. This asteroid-like object was given the name Oumuamua and is now being carefully tracked to pick up any frequencies it might be emitting and find out more about this strange artifact.
Near Miss Asteroids
The Alien Asteroid
On October 19th of this year, Robert Weryk spotted an asteroidal object zipping through the solar system at a rate of 196,000 mph. Weryk was using the Pan-STARRS telescope at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, hence the vowel-heavy Polynesian name, Oumuamua.
Oumuamua means scout, to “reach out first” or “reach out in advance.” Weryk says he sees the asteroid as a messenger from the past that is reaching out to us.
At first, it was thought that Oumuamua was a comet, though it was quickly reclassified due to its lack of a cometary tail, but was soon reclassified again due to its odd shape and provenance, possibly coming from the star Vega in the Lyra constellation. This interstellar object, being the first of its kind ever observed, was given a unique classification with the name 1I/2017 U1, a.k.a. Oumuamua.
Oumuamua is several hundred meters in length, with its height and width about a tenth of that. Its odd structure is fitting for interstellar travel and is a shape that scientists believe would be ideal for interstellar spacecraft. The cigar-shape minimizes friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust, preventing collisions that large, round asteroids would be more susceptible to.
Though most astronomers assume that it is simply an icy asteroid, careering through space on a 600,000-year journey from Vega, others believe it is worth looking at a little more closely for evidence of extraterrestrial life.
This is where the Breakthrough Listen project got involved, when they pointed the Green Bank Telescope at it for a 10-hour period to pick up any radio frequencies or anomalies.
The program, funded by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, in coordination with Stephen Hawking and the SETI program at UC Berkeley, devotes satellite power to listening for extraterrestrial life in the universe.
Though they’re not getting their hopes up with Oumuamua, they believe it to be worthwhile, and whether or not it turns out to be a spaceship, artifact, or psychic monolith, like the one in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey, Breakthrough Listen believes it can at least glean some useful information on this cosmic phenomenon.
After pointing the Green Bank Telescope at Oumuamua, scientists don’t believe to have discovered any signals, though some believe it could have triggered an “awakening” of the extraterrestrial entity from which it originated. This is according to Nick Pope, the former head of the Ministry of Defense for the UK.
Scientists are still intrigued by the composition of the asteroid, as it appears to have a strange organic coating around it, possibly protecting its inner composition. Normally asteroidal objects like these are composed of ice and rock, leaving a trail in their wake, especially when it comes within close proximity to a star.
Oumuamua came particularly close to the Sun, yet it emitted no tail and continued its journey at a mercurial speed out towards the edge of the solar system.
According to scientists who were able to catch a quick glimpse, Oumuamua consisted of minerals and alloys not found in our solar system, adding to its mystique.
Scientists are Still Puzzled
With Oumuamua on a fast trajectory out of the solar system, scientists must act quickly to study it. By May of 2018, it will be on its way past Jupiter as it is currently moving at a rate of 58,160 miles per hour.
Oumuamua’s shape and speed aren’t the only characteristics that have puzzled scientists. Its dark red color, reflecting only 4 percent of sunlight, seems to vary in color as scientists observe it. Looking at it under infrared light, scientists noticed it was grey in color, typical for an icy body that we’ve seen more locally, though it didn’t emit the tail normally seen with icy asteroids and comets.
Some are drawing the eerie connection to the Arthur C. Clarke novel, Rendevous with Rama, in which a cylindrical alien spaceship enters our solar system, originally mistaken for an asteroid. The similarities between Oumuamua and Rama are uncanny, with the sci-fi asteroid coming in on a fast trajectory from interstellar space, rotating rapidly to create a gravitational field for its inhabitants inside.
Oumuamua’s rotation has been calculated to once every 8 hours, while Rama rotated once every 4 minutes. But these technicalities haven’t prevented the Breakthrough Listen and other hopefuls from attempting to capture some type of signal from it.
Scientists have even suggested the possibility that we may catch up to Oumuamua with the Space-X BFR that is being developed for a manned mission to Mars. For this to be feasible though, the rocket would have to be completed and launched within the next five years.
There have been other ideas for catching up with Oumuamua by companies interested in mining asteroids as well as those who simply want to study them. Deploying a series of small probes to the interstellar object was another possibility. The Breakthrough Starshot project has proposed this concept in its search for alien life, though they have yet to develop a practical prototype.
This past August, Breakthrough Listen discovered a series of fast burst radio signals or FRBs coming from a distant dwarf galaxy, similarly perplexing scientists. Is this project on the cusp of discovering definitive proof of extraterrestrial life?
Callers From the Cosmos
Project Serpo and the Zeta Reticuli Exchange Program
In November 1977, Steven Spielberg released his movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It was a financial and artistic success. It received a number of accolades, including nominations for four Golden Globes and eight Academy Awards. In 2007, the U.S. Library Of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” and chose it for preservation in the library “for all time.” Read the purported story of Project Serpo, then consider the evidence.
UFO Encounter Classification
For those new to the topic, the title of Spielberg’s movie came from the UFO classification developed by astronomer and UFO researcher, J. Allen Hynek’s Classification of UFO encounters: + Encounters of the first kind: Someone sees a UFO at a distance closer than 500 feet and is able to give a pretty good description of the object + Encounters of the second kind: The viewing of an UFO creates a physical sensation. For example, the encounter may involve a feeling of heat, or a feeling of paralysis in the body + Encounters of the third kind: Encounters in which a type of “animated creature” accompanies the UFO encounter.
Hynek was an Advisor to the U.S. Air Force on several of its UFO study projects. While he was bound by security clearances, he was undoubtedly privy to information that he was unable to share publicly. He also had a cameo appearance in the Spielberg movie.
In the movie, there are human encounters with extraterrestrials (ETs) and, in the end, one person voluntarily decides to join the ETs and travel with them back to their planet. Could there be any truth to this story? Is it possible that Earth has contacted ETs or that Americans have visited other planets? Read about the Serpo Exchange Program and President Ronald Reagan’s knowledge of Project Serpo.
The Exchange Program Between Earth and Project Serpo In the Zeta Reticuli System
The Planet Serpo exchange project traces its origins to the Famous Roswell Incident where a UFO reportedly crashed in the plains near Socorro, New Mexico, on May 31, 1947. The remains of the craft and one living ET, along with the bodies of his four dead companions, were taken to Roswell for analysis. Meanwhile, the government reported to the American public by telling them they had only seen weather balloons.
As it turned out, there were Two Crashes. The remains of the second UFO were not found until about two years later. It appeared the two spacecraft had crashed into each other. By then, six bodies of dead aliens had decomposed, so there wasn’t much of them left. Even so, the remains were taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for evaluation and study.