Astronomer Thinks Something Alien Sits on Ocean Floor

Avi Loeb hopes to find pieces of a 2014 meteor, confirm whether it's interstellar
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2022 4:19 PM CDT
Updated Sep 4, 2022 8:30 AM CDT
An Astronomer Is Hunting for Treasure on the Ocean Floor
   (Getty Images / A-Ko-N)

We'll preface this by saying Avi Loeb has more skeptics than supporters. But he also has an intriguing theory. The professor at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics thinks it's possible there is alien technology sitting on the ocean floor, or at least something interstellar. And he's determined to scoop it up and find out. As NPR explains, in 2014 a meteor streamed into our atmosphere at a speed of 100,000mph before exploding in the lower atmosphere; the pieces ended up in the South Pacific Ocean off Papua New Guinea. Loeb theorized that speed made it "much too fast to be bound to the sun"—meaning it could have come from outside our solar system. He also believes it's composed of a material tougher than iron, reports NBC Boston.

But his 2019 paper asserting this used observations from a US Department of Defense spy satellite. As such, explains "the exact error values of the measurement are a carefully guarded secret." His paper has yet to find a home in a peer-reviewed journal since the data can't be verified, and that meteor—CNEOS 2014-01-08—has yet to be classified as an interstellar object. It would be huge if it was: Only two interstellar objects have been confirmed (Oumuamua, a possible chunk of a distant planet, and Borisov, a rogue comet), and neither entered our atmosphere. But if his mission goes as planned, he could end up with very real proof.

Loeb is planning a $1.5 million expedition intended to collect and then test pieces of the meteor from a 40-square-mile section of the ocean floor, in a process he likens to lawn mowing. "We are planning to use a sled with a magnet [it's thought the pieces would be magnetic] that will scoop a very thin layer off the top of the muck." Though he acknowledges there is no indication the object was technological in origin, he says it's possible "it will be made of some alloy that nature doesn't put together ... If you ask what my wish is, if it's indeed of artificial origin, and there was some component of the object that survived, and if it has any buttons on it, I would love to press them." (More meteor stories.)

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