CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard professor Avi Loeb believes he may have found fragments of alien technology from a meteor that touched down in Papua New Guinea waters in 2014.
Loeb and his team just returned the materials to Harvard for analysis. The US Space Command can confirm with almost 99.999% certainty that it comes from another solar system. The government gave Loeb a 10 km (6.2 mi) radius around where it might have landed.
“That’s where the fireball happened, and the government found out from the Department of Defense. It’s a really big area the size of Boston, so we wanted to pin it down,” Loeb said, “We calculated the distance of the fireball based on the time delay between the arrival of the blast wave, the bang of the explosion, and the light arriving quickly.”
Their calculations allowed them to map out a potential path of the meteor. Those calculations happened to cut a path right through the projected 10 km range that came from the US government. Loeb and his crew took a boat called the Silver Star. The ship took numerous passes along and around the projected path. The researchers combed the ocean floor by attaching a sled full of magnets to their boat.
“We found ten spheres. These are almost perfect spheres or metal marbles. When you look at them through a microscope, they look very different from the background,” Loeb explains. “They are gold, blue, brown and some of them look like a miniature of the Earth.”
Their compositional analysis showed that the spheres are made of 84% iron, 8% silicon, 4% magnesium and 2% titanium, plus trace elements. They are submillimetre in size. The crew found a total of 50.
“It has a material strength stronger than any space rock previously seen and cataloged by NASA,” Loeb added, “We calculated its speed outside the solar system. It was 60 km per second, which is faster than 95% of all stars near the Sun. The fact that it was made of materials stronger than even iron meteorites, and moves faster than 95% of all stars near the Sun, suggested that it might be a spacecraft of a could be another civilization, or a technological gadget.”
He compares the situation to each of the Voyager spacecraft launched by NASA.
“They will leave the solar system in 10,000 years. Imagine them colliding with another planet, a billion years away. They would appear as a meteor with a faster-than-normal composition,” explains Loeb.
The research and analysis is just beginning at Harvard. Loeb tries to understand whether the spheres are artificial or natural. If they are natural, it will give researchers insight into what materials may exist outside our solar system. If it’s artificial, then the questions really start.
“It will take us tens of thousands of years to leave our solar system with our current spacecraft to another star. This material has spent that time getting to us, but it’s already there,” Loeb smiled, “We just need to get our backyard to see if we have packages from an interstellar Amazon that takes billions of years to travel.”
He still has more debris to examine and hours of unseen footage from the camera attached to their sled. He believes there’s a chance the scoops are little breadcrumbs for a bigger find.
“They also help us locate any large chunk of the meteor that we might find on a future expedition,” details Loeb, “We hope to find a large chunk of this object that survived the impact, because then we can see whether it’s a rock or a technological gadget.”
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