Xenoarchaeology: Considering Regmaglypts

31 05 2012

-Just a quick thought this evening on a possible (and personally-recommended) entry into the future xenoarchaeologist’s playbook.

Xenoarchaeology, (insofar as I’ve been engaged in its development,) is deeply interdisciplinary in principle.  As such, it is useful to promote and incorporate unfamiliar astronomy and planetary concepts into a field perhaps initially or reflexively dominanted by archaeological forensics concepts.   This may be specifically relevant when attempting to determine an object’s (artifact’s?) possible extraterrestrial character, (presuming for the sake of argument that there is reason to believe there is one).

Regmaglypts visible in a meteorite recovered from Zacatecas, Mexico. (Credit: Robert A. Haag)

With this in mind, given a scenario considering the possibility of terrestrial capture of a non-terrestrial artifact, (say we are lucky enough to intercept an alien Voyager probe, for instance,) I’d like to review the concept of the “regmaglypt.” 

A geological term, regmaglypts are various “small, well-defined, characteristic indentations or pits on the surface of meteorites, frequently resembling the imprints of fingertips in soft clay.” 

In short, they represent a sort of very specific evidence of aerodynamic thermal erosion during an object’s entry through the atmosphere.

Discovery of features like this on an object would serve to strongly suggest an extraterrestrial origin.

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