A prominent Harvard physicist will spend US$1.5 million on an expedition to Papua New Guinea in search of the remnants of a meteor he believes might be an alien probe.
The ambitious expedition is being organized by Avi Loeb, the chairman of Harvard’s astronomy department and founder of the extra terrestrial-hunting Galileo Project.
In a blog post, Loeb announced he’s in search of fragments of CNEOS1 2014-01-08, which smashed into Earth in 2014 and exploded into tiny fragments about a hundred kilometres off the coast of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
“Within a couple of months, I will be leading an expedition to collect the fragments of the first interstellar meteor. This meteor is the first near-Earth object ever detected by humans from outside the solar system,” he wrote on Medium.
In his post, Loeb posits that his exploration to the depths of the ocean could possibly turn up fragments of alien technology, launched a billion years ago by an ancient civilization outside our solar system.
“In case we recover a sizable technological relic from the Pacific Ocean, I promised the curator of the Museum of Modern Art, Paula Antonelli, that I will bring it for display in New York. This piece would represent modernity for us, even though it is a relic of ancient history for the senders,” he wrote about his future plans, should his theory prove correct.
Loeb detailed his theory in the blog post, writing that he noticed the object in 2019 and identified it as the first interstellar meteor ever discovered. He also writes that the meteor’s origin was confirmed by NASA and the U.S. Department of Defence last year and that analysis from his team concluded that the meteor was comprised of a material much harder than all of the other 272 meteors in NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies catalog.
Loeb says that his team is well-prepared for the mission: “We have a boat. We have a dream team, including some of the most experienced and qualified professionals in ocean expeditions. We have complete design and manufacturing plans for the required sled, magnets, collection nets and mass spectrometer.”
Loeb outlined the details for the operation, writing that his team will tow a sled mounted with cameras, magnets and lights along the ocean floor in a 10-kilometre by 10-kilometre search area that has been verified by a number of sources. The special sand-sifting equipment is now in the final stages of development, and Loeb writes that he hopes to set sail this summer.
“It’s just like mowing the lawn,” Loeb told NPR of the exploration technology last year. “We are planning to use a sled with a magnet that will scoop a very thin layer off the top of the muck.”
Despite his lofty theory, however, he does realize the expedition carries some risk and that he could be wrong.
“There is a chance it will fail,” he told The Daily Beast, saying that any recovered fragment may turn out to be natural in origin. He also admits that he needs airtight proof to back up his claims.
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” he said.
Earlier this month, Loeb and Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office, released a draft report outlining the possibility that alien spacecraft may have been able to travel to Earth by carefully examining the physical constraints of how objects travel through space. The report is still under review.
And despite Loeb’s undeniable authority in the astronomy community, his theories of aliens visiting Earth have often been considered controversial.