Harvard astronomer believes meteorite that exploded over the ocean in 2014 was an alien probe
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo. dotted zebra / Alamy Stock Photo
A Harvard astronomer is convinced that the meteorite that exploded over the Pacific Ocean in 2014 was an alien probe.
And he’s willing to put money on it.
Physicist Avi Loeb has launched a USD $1.5 million (AUD $2.25m) search mission for fragments from the first interstellar meteor to be detected outside our solar system.
He shared in a Medium post that the Galileo Project officially got the green light.
Loeb revealed that he, along with a team of researchers, will complete design and manufacturing plans for the required sled, magnets, collection nets and mass spectrometer’.
The physicist has spent years working with the US military to locate where it landed near Papua New Guinea.
The meteorite, or CNEOS-2014-01-08 as it's scientifically known, which landed nearly a decade ago, collided with earth at a speed of 45 kilometers per second on 8 January 2014.
As a result of its friction with air, the fireball dispersed into small fragments over the Pacific Ocean about a hundred kilometers off the coast of Manus Island.
The US Space Command confirmed last year that the rock came from another solar system, marking it as the first known interstellar to visit earth.
While an underwater expedition to find such fragments will be extremely difficult, Loeb believes it will pay off in the long run.
He told The Harvard Crimson that he and his team would search one centimetre into the ocean floor to collect small pieces of the rock.
“This meteor actually disintegrated presumably into small fragments, so we are not looking for one big chunk,” he said.
“We just need a few grams of material — that's all, a few grams — to be able to tell the composition.”
And if that material is unrecognizable, it likely came from extraterrestrial life, according to the physicist.
Or it could even be newly discovered material. Either way, we’ll learn something new, says Loeb.
However, the scientist is aware there are still many sceptics out there.
“People say ‘Oh, it's just a space rock. We saw so many space rocks in the past. What's new about it?'" he said.
“It's the first one that came from outside the solar system and, second, it's tougher than 99.7 per cent of everything we have seen.”
He added: “We should be able to tell what its origin is — whether it’s an artificial alloy, for example, if it were a spacecraft of another technological civilization."