Alien probe or interstellar meteorite, finding it won't be easy.
Set For Sea
Harvard physicist Avi Loeb — yep, the Oumuamua guy — hasn't given up on his quest to recover what he believes could be a potential alien artifact at the bottom of the Pacific. Based on a recent update, he and his team are closer than ever to finally getting their highly scrutinized $1.5 million Galileo Project expedition up and running, setting a date for some time this summer.
"We have a boat. We have a dream team, including some of the most experienced and qualified professionals in ocean expeditions," Loeb announced in a Medium post. "We have complete design and manufacturing plans for the required sled, magnets, collection nets and mass spectrometer."
"And most importantly," he added, "today we received the green light to go ahead."
It may be a veritable shot in the dark, but what Loeb's expedition is searching for is likely real, though some academic peers might consider his hopes of finding something alien a little hokey.
Their target: a meteorite, designated CNEOS1 2014-01-08, that appears to be one of the few interstellar objects ever observed in our solar system, and the best candidate for one that crashed to Earth.
It's one tough nut to crack — literally. An analysis by Loeb and his team suggested that the meteor is harder and tougher than all of the nearly 300 meteors in NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies catalog. True to his reputation, Loeb posits these clues could mean that what we're dealing with isn't random space debris, but an alien probe.
After years of effort, Loeb and his collaborators have pinpointed where they think the meteor impacted: somewhere within a roughly four square mile area off the coast of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, and submerged beneath some 0.65 miles of ocean.
Narrowing it down that much is an impressive feat, but Loeb's adventurers still have their work cut out for them. The interstellar meteorite disintegrated into tiny fragments when it entered our atmosphere, meaning they might as well be searching for a shiny grain of sand at the bottom of the ocean. In fact, that's pretty much what they are doing.
Still, they've come up with as practical of an approach as is imaginable in the face of such overwhelming odds. Sleds equipped with magnets, cameras and lights will sift through the seafloor, towed along by a boat. In theory, the magnets should dredge up any meteoritic fragments — be it the iron shards of a natural object, or stainless-steel slivers from an extraterrestrial craft.
"There is a chance it will fail," Loeb told The Daily Beast. But Loeb knows that it's a risk worth taking. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
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