It’s possible that an extraterrestrial spacecraft is sending mini-probes to study the planets of our solar system, in a way similar to what human space agencies do, the head of the Pentagon’s unidentified anomalous phenomena research office said in a recent draft report.
The characteristics of certain unusual, unexplained interstellar objects have prompted researchers to consider the possibility of “a parent craft that releases many small probes during its close passage to Earth, an operational construct not too dissimilar from NASA missions,” Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the Defense Department’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), wrote in the report co-authored by Abraham “Avi” Loeb, chairman of Harvard University’s astronomy department.
Kirkpatrick, who previously served as the chief scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center, has been leading the AARO since its founding in July 2022. The office is tasked to, among other things, evaluate reports of unidentified anomalous phenomena filed by all service members, according to the Pentagon.
Loeb, on the other hand, is known for his work studying the “Oumuamua” interstellar object, which was first discovered in October 2017 by a telescope in Hawaii and sparked much speculation that it could have been a probe sent by an alien civilization. He launched and directs Harvard’s Galileo Project, which aims to identify and examine “extraterrestrial technological signatures” using standard scientific methods.
Their draft report (pdf), released on March 8, specifically discusses two objects: Oumuamua, which appears to have an extremely flat shape and curiously lacks the kind of cometary tail of gas and dust an asteroid typically has; and IM2, a meter-size interstellar meteor that collided with Earth in March 2017.
“These ‘dandelion seeds’ could be separated from the parent craft by the tidal gravitational force of the Sun or by a maneuvering capability,” the authors wrote, indicating that the supposed mothership could launch an Earth probe from a faraway place with a small ejection speed.
“With proper design, these tiny probes would reach the Earth or other solar system planets for exploration, as the parent craft passes by within a fraction of the Earth-Sun separation—just like ‘Oumuamua’ did,” they explained. “Astronomers would not be able to notice the spray of mini-probes because they do not reflect enough sunlight for existing survey telescopes to notice them.”
The Earth-Sun separation, also known as an astronomical unit, is equivalent to 92.96 million miles (149.6 million kilometers).
The paper also looked into the likely purpose of such a journey. In analogy with actual dandelion seeds, the authors said, the probes could “propagate the blueprint of their senders.”
“As with biological seeds, the raw materials on the planet’s surface could also be used by them as nutrients for self-replication or simply scientific exploration,” the paper stated. With that said, the authors argued that such exploration probably has nothing to do with human species, considering the sheer time scale associated with it.
“More likely, and similar to NASA’s missions, the goal would be scientific and exploratory in nature,” they wrote.
The AARO paper, titled “Physical Constraints on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,” came after a bipartisan group of 16 senators asked the Biden administration to fully fund the office.
The Defense Department’s initial request for funds in Fiscal Year 2023 would only fund basic operating expenses for AARO, and the office “is facing a funding shortfall that will impede its ability to fulfill its mission,” according to the Senators, led by Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“AARO provides the opportunity to integrate and resolve threats and hazards to the U.S., while also offering increased transparency to the American people and reducing the stigma,” the lawmakers wrote in a Feb. 16 letter to Pentagon. “AARO’s success will depend on robust funding for its activities and cooperation between the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.”
From The Epoch Times