There is a possibility that extraterrestrial motherships and smaller probes may be visiting planets in our solar system, the head of the Pentagon’s unidentified aerial phenomena research office noted in a report draft shared Tuesday.
“[A]n artificial interstellar object could potentially be a parent craft that releases many small probes during its close passage to Earth, an operational construct not too dissimilar from NASA missions,” Sean Kirkpatrick, director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, wrote in a research report co-authored by Abraham Loeb, chairman of Harvard University’s astronomy department.
Kirkpatrick, who was appointed as director of the AARO when it was founded in July 2022, previously served as the chief scientist at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center. The AARO was established to investigate unidentified “objects of interest” around military installations, according to a Pentagon press release.
Loeb, on the other hand, gained notoriety when he proposed our solar system had been traversed by its first extrasolar visitor in October 2017. At that time, the PanSTARRS telescope in Hawaii detected an object moving at a speed that caused some scientists to suggest that it originated outside our system. The object’s orbit also hinted at other forces besides the sun’s gravitational pull influencing its movement.
Scientists dubbed the object “Oumuamua,” the Hawaiian term for “scout,” which Kirkpatrick and Loeb offer in their research paper as an example of a possible mothership with probe capabilities.
“With proper design, these tiny probes would reach the Earth or other solar system planets for exploration, as the parent craft passes by within a fraction of the Earth-Sun separation — just like ‘Oumuamua’ did,” the authors explained. “Astronomers would not be able to notice the spray of mini-probes because they do not reflect enough sunlight for existing survey telescopes to notice them.”
The research paper — titled “Physical Constraints on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” — comes following a month of intense scrutiny of unidentified flying objects, a stirring trend ignited when a Chinese spy balloon captivated the nation by drifting across U.S. airspace. Three additional unidentified objects were subsequently found.
On Feb. 16, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and 12 other senators sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stacey Dixon calling for full funding for the AARO. The Biden administration’s previous funding request for fiscal year 2023 failed to fund anything beyond the office’s basic operating expenses, the lawmakers argued.
“AARO provides the opportunity to integrate and resolve threats and hazards to the U.S., while also offering increased transparency to the American people and reducing the stigma,” the lawmakers’ letter stated. “AARO’s success will depend on robust funding for its activities and cooperation between the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.”
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.