Professor Abraham “Avi” Loeb said Tuesday that he had received $1.5 million in funding to lead an expedition to Papua New Guinea (PNG), an island north of Australia, to scope the ocean floor for a 2014 meteor that crashed into the ocean which he suspects may be of alien origin.
“The fundamental question is whether it was an unusual rock from another star, or was it a spacecraft,” Loeb said during an episode of the “I’ve Got News For You” podcast. “We’re planning an expedition to Papua New Guinea and scoop the ocean floor and figure out the composition of this object.”
Some believe that the object, which was officially identified as an interstellar meteor by the U.S. government, could be some kind of an alien probe. The object is said to be the first confirmed object known to have crashed into Earth from another solar system.
Loeb’s expedition to PNG, a former Australian colony, will head to the nation’s Manus Island, where the object went down in the waters around the island. Manus Island was also the location for many years of an Australian detention center for migrants.
The trip will take place in March or April 2023 as the researchers hope to find the object in order to better understand its composition. They will be using giant magnets to comb the Pacific floor where the meteor is believed to have crashed.
In 2017, another object, known as the Oumuamua, or “messenger sent from the distant past,” slingshotted around the sun. At the time, it was the first known interstellar object to pass through our solar system — before speculation from Loeb and later confirmation from the government about the 2014 meteor.
“And then with my student a couple of years later, we found that actually four years before Oumuamua there was a meteor that was discovered by the U.S. government, which moved really fast at 28 miles per second, disintegrated in the lower atmosphere of the Earth about 100 miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea, and it came from outside the solar system,” he said.
Loeb, who is in charge of Harvard’s UFO-research dedicated Galileo Program, added that the light curve of the meteor demonstrated that it was composed of something stronger than iron and most other space rocks studied by the government.
Due to the fact that the nearest star to Earth is more than 25 trillion miles away and the fact it would take millions of years to reach the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy, Loeb claims that any alien civilization would likely send a probe instead of attempting a journey itself due to the “hazardous conditions of space.”
“I call these AI astronauts and most likely we will see gadgets that are very intelligent; they might be well ahead of what we have,” he said. “It might take us a while to figure out what they really are doing here and what they’re seeking, but at the same time we can distinguish them from rocks, natural objects like meteors falling on Earth.”
The scientist added that he had promised to ensure that any “gadget” found at the bottom of the ocean would go to a museum, and not end up with the government. “Because it would represent modernity for us, even though it represents ancient history for the senders,” he said.
Speculation about otherworldly beings crashing near PNG is not the first time the island has been shrouded in mystery. In 2004, police scoured remote areas of the island with M-16s and machetes after locals reported a “dinosaur” sighting. The animal apparently had the tail of a crocodile and the head of a dog.
A previous version of this article said Oumuamua passed through Earth and exploded over Portugal. It has been corrected.