Work underway atop the Harvard College Observatory.
Credit: Galileo Project/Avi Loeb

Work is underway at Harvard University to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures to a new level of systematic scientific research – and that “level” has reached a rooftop.

Avi Loeb is the head of the Galileo Project, an effort that is complementary to traditional Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence efforts, in that it searches for physical objects, but not electromagnetic signals, associated with extraterrestrial technological equipment.

The intent of the Galileo Project is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research.

Shown at recent Congressional hearing, Video 1 2021 flyby movie showing a purported UAP.
Credit: Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Fishing expedition

Meanwhile, back to the rooftop.

Members of the Galileo Project are busily working on the roof of the Harvard College Observatory and assembling the first telescope system for what Loeb tags as a “fishing expedition.”

“The next step is assembly of the instruments — optical, infrared, radio and audio sensors — in June and then starting to collect data in July and analyzing it with artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) algorithms,” Loeb told Inside Outer Space.

“If everything works to our satisfaction, we will deploy the system at a better observing site and start making copies of it for other locations. The number of copies will depend on the level of funding we have,” Loeb said. That better site and other locations, “to be decided,” he said.

GIMBAL/“Tic Tac”
Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Search for anomalous characteristics

As one tall pole in how to search for life as we don’t know it, there’s the study of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) observed in the atmosphere whose characteristics and behavior cannot be readily explained in terms of well-known objects and physical processes, explains the Galileo Project website. “That is, all known explanations of aerial, atmospheric, or related phenomena, or even our current knowledge of technological advances, do not adequately explain why these phenomena have been observed.”

To examine the possibility of extraterrestrial origin for UAP, the website adds, “by making observations of objects in and near Earth’s atmosphere, filtering out identifiable objects using AI deep learning algorithms trained on rigorous classification of known objects, and then examining the nature of the remaining data for anomalous characteristics.”

GOFAST
Credit: DOD/U.S. Navy/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Mixed bag

According to Loeb, UAP are most likely a mixed bag. Many may have mundane explanations.

“From a scientific perspective, it makes most sense to focus effort on developing new instrumentation and monitoring objects in a quest for the best possible data. Instead of relying on pilots, the government could use ground-based instruments of higher quality than available in fighter jets or analyze the best satellite data at its possession. I hope they are doing that. We employ a much smaller budget to follow this goal within the Galileo Project,” Loeb told Space.com earlier.

The question is whether there is even one object for which human-made or natural origins can be excluded, Loeb notes. In particular, do we have materials from any of them?

“If some data has no national security implications, it should be analyzed by top scientists. I would love to help interpret the highest quality data if shared openly,” Loeb explains.

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