Research supports possibility of non-terrestrial artifacts in Solar System

7 11 2011

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.)

Archaeologists excavating an alien artifact in 1928 from the movie “Stargate.” (Credit: MGM)

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.

(For more information, see my original post here, and past related follow-up posts here, here, and here.)


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3 responses

7 11 2011
Felix

I haven’t read anything more about this than your post but it strikes me as a rather odd paper.

Since one can’t prove a negative it will never be possible to rule out the presence of non-terrestrial objects in the solar system. After all, they maybe sub-surface, or perhaps they having cloaking technology, indeed they could be made of dark-matter.

Your exclamation “This is extraordinary news” is so over the top it’s almost satire!🙂

One could take any proposition and do this to it: “Theologians admit that they cannot be 100% certain that Jesus was not originally known as Brian”.

“This is extraordinary news!” declares John Cleese.

7 11 2011
astrowright

Well, the devil, as they say, is in the details. While not being able to prove a negative, you *can* rule out certain states of being insofar as the evidence supports, (i.e., we can rule out the existence of coniferous forests on Mars.) This paper appears to be in response to the implied, commonly-held assertion that there are no non-terrestrial artifacts in the Solar System. And while you’re right that you could continue to extend the “hiding places” ad nauseum, (dark matter, subsurface, etc.,) their criteria is surveillance at sufficient resolution to identify any Voyager-probe-sized object (probe) of non-terrestrial origin.

And I’m afraid you’ve taken my “extarordinary news” comment in a different context than I meant it. =) I didn’t mean ot say the statement was extraordinary – I meant to convey that the fact that researchers were willing to buck the conventional (albeit unsupported) viewpoint with an honest statistical approach to reveal just how well (or poorly) we’ve actually been able to survey the Solar System to this point in time is extraordinary, (especially considering how negatively some viewed my own work, which made similar assertions.)

Thanks for reading/commenting!

(PS – I dig the Monty Python ref…!)

7 11 2011
V. Lyn

I like the fact that they are willing to acknowledge that due to ”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.” It atleast shows that they acknowledge that there is a possibility of other advanced life COULD exist and JUST because we have not seen them does not mean they do not exist. That is indeed an extraordinary confession in some circles of science.

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