Scientists Now Say Interstellar Object May Have Been Alien Probe

asteroid in deep space lit by a star

Harvard scientists reexamined the bizarre, interstellar space object known as “Oumuamua,” which rocketed through our solar system late last year, resurrecting the possibility that it may be an alien probe. Academics and scientists were quick to write off the cigar-shaped object as a previously unknown type of bolide – a comet or asteroid – propelled in a highly unusual manner, but their observations are once again, being challenged.

Oumuamua, which means “a messenger sent to reach out in advance,” was first observed by Robert Weryk at the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. He measured the object to be several hundred meters in length, or the size of a large sports stadium.

The size and shape of the object were calculated to be able to hold up to collisions with space dust and debris while maintaining enough momentum to travel the vast distance between stars, but recent examinations found a discrepancy in its mass-to-area ratio that doesn’t quite add up.

“Known solar system objects, like asteroids and comets, have mass-to-area ratios orders of magnitude larger than our estimate for ‘Oumuamua,” said Shmuel Bialy and Abraham Loeb of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“If radiation pressure is the accelerating force, then ‘Oumuamua represents a new class of thin, interstellar material, either produced naturally, or of an artificial origin.”

They went on to speculate about the possibility of Oumuamua as a type of artificial satellite known as a lightsail, which is currently in development by the Breakthrough Initiative program founded by Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking. Loeb is a member of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative.

“The lightsail technology might be abundantly used for transportation of cargos between planets or between stars. In the former case, dynamical ejection from a planetary system could result in space debris of equipment that is not operational anymore and is floating at the characteristic speed of stars relative to each other in the Solar neighborhood. This would account for the various anomalies of ‘Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its lightcurve,” Bialy and Loeb said.

Oumuamua hurdled through our solar system at 58,000 mph when it was discovered on Oct. 19, 2017. The object was then propelled by the Sun’s gravity, causing it to blast off on a hyperbolic trajectory out of our solar system at a rate of 196,000 mph.

This exit speed was initially attributed to a combination of a gravity assist from the Sun and outgassing – the release of gasses from a comet as its surface heats. But scientists noticed that Oumuamua didn’t show the typical “coma,” or cloud of gas, one might expect from an outgassing comet, making its high escape velocity especially strange.

This led Loeb and Bialy to consider another potential for Oumuamua… a more exciting one.

“Alternatively, a more exotic scenario is that ‘Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization,” the authors said.

Unfortunately it’s way too late for us to send a probe to Oumuamua or even to photograph it so that it could be studied properly, due to simply to its sheer speed and the distance it’s already travelled from Earth. Instead, Bialy and Loeb suggest we keep our eyes out for similar objects careening through our local celestial neighborhood.

For more on the potential techno-signatures of extraterrestrial civilizations watch this episode of Deep Space :

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Scientists Say They've Discovered Martian Life in Form of Fungi

The days of scientists dismissing all signs of life on the Martian surface as pareidolia or just a trick of shadows may be over, as a statistically significant majority of 70 scientists agree they’ve identified evidence of life on the red planet.

According to a paper published in the Journal of Astrobiology, as well as the consortium of believing scientists, the Mars Curiosity Rover seems to have photographed evidence of life on Mars in the form of algae, lichens, and fungi.

In addition to a number of pictures showing these prokaryotes and eukaryotes seeming to thrive on the surface of Martian rocks, other photos depict what appear to be fungi growing on the rover itself.

The evidence supports a number of hypotheses that these types of “puff-balls,” or fungal organisms would be able to survive the Martian atmosphere, despite exposure to intense space radiation and harsh atmospheric conditions.

 

Though this information is just now being released to the public, other scientists are claiming they identified equaling compelling evidence decades ago detected by the 1976 Viking mission, yet for some reason NASA still didn’t equip subsequent missions with the proper tools to test for life. And despite the substantial photographic evidence of this life, the only way to truly prove whether it’s living is to sample it and send it back to Earth for testing.

 

“There are no geological or other abiogenic forces on Earth which can produce sedimentary structures, by the hundreds, which have mushroom shapes, stems, stalks, and shed what looks like spores on the surrounding surface,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Regina Dass of the Department of Microbiology at India’s School of Life Sciences. “In fact, fifteen specimens were photographed by NASA growing out of the ground in just three days!”

Dass and team also argued that there are fluctuations in methane levels on the ground as well as in the Martian atmosphere that vary between seasons, much like methane fluctuations seen on Earth. 90 percent of that methane is the direct result of living organisms.

NASA denies the assertion that these photos are proof of living organisms, calling into question the validity of the journal making the claims. Instead the administration says the photos simply depict minerals like hematite.

But if this scientific consortium is correct and there are basic life forms able to survive Mars’ hostile atmosphere, how they ended up on the red planet is a bit of a mystery.

Considering that certain cyanobacteria and fungi have been observed to survive the vacuum of space and cosmic radiation, some believe these microorganisms on Mars may have come from Earth, either blasted from meteorite impacts or having caught a ride with one of the rovers.

And then there’s also the other hypothesis that says they could be remnants of an ancient civilization that once resided on Mars, before some cataclysmic event turned the planet into the inhospitable rock it is today. At least that’s what remote viewers working for the CIA claim they saw.

 

For more on the potential habitability of Mars watch Dr. Robert Zubrin on this episode of Beyond Belief:

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