In a professionally-risky but scientifically-admirable move that came as a bit of a shock to me, two Penn State University researchers recently authored a study that claimed, statistically-speaking, that not enough of the planetary surface areas (at sufficient resolution) and volume of the Solar System has yet been surveyed to rule out the presence of what they term “non-terrestrial” artifacts. (For more information, see the PSU press story here.)
According to the post-doctoral academics, “The vastness of space, combined with our limited searches to date, implies that any remote unpiloted exploratory probes of extraterrestrial origin would likely remain unnoticed.”
That this admission has been formalized is extraordinary news, for it reinforces the very impetus for my own work on xenoarchaeological guidelines; lending credence to the view that a proactive stance on the rigorous development of xenoarchaeology as a practicable field science (along with related communication strategies) is no less justified than that underpinning astrobiology or conventional SETI studies.
Curious to me from a terminology standpoint is the authors’ use of the term, “non-terrestrial.” It certainly allows for a consistent discussion while avoiding the sensationalist baggage involved with the term, “extra-terrestrial.”
Looks like the academic environment is ripe for the further development of xenoarchaeological methodologies and analogue work. Stay tuned.