interstellar object 'Oumuamua.
Credit: Getty Images
If some UAP turn out to be
they could be dropping sensors
for a subsequent craft to tune into.
What if 'Oumuamua
is such a craft?
There is one exception to this wish, however.
Recently, there have been two sources for such evidence.
Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that the U.S. government believes that some of these objects are not human in origin.
This leaves two possibilities:
Both possibilities imply something new and interesting that we did not know before.
The study of UAP should therefore shift from occupying the talking points of national security administrators and politicians to the arena of science where it is studied by scientists rather than government officials.
Many or even most UAP might be natural phenomena.
But even if one of them is extraterrestrial, might there be any possible link to 'Oumuamua?
The inferred abundance of 'Oumuamua-like objects is unreasonably large if they're of purely natural origin.
With Amaya Moro-Martín and Ed Turner, I wrote a paper in 2009 (Will the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope detect extra-solar planetesimals entering the solar system?) calculating the number of interstellar rocks based on what is known about the solar system and assuming that these rocks were ejected from similar planetary systems orbiting other stars.
In fact, there should be a quadrillion 'Oumuamua-like objects within the solar system at any given time, if they are distributed on random trajectories with equal probability of moving in all directions.
But the number is reasonable if 'Oumuamua was an artificial object on a targeted mission towards the sun, aimed to collect data from the habitable region near Earth.
One might even wonder whether 'Oumuamua might have been retrieving data from probes that were already sprinkled on Earth at an earlier time.
In such a case, 'Oumuamua's thin, flat shape could have been that of a receiver...
Hence, 'Oumuamua was pushed by sunlight not for the purpose of propulsion but as a byproduct of its thin flat shape...
A similar push by reflection of sunlight without a cometary tail were the traits of an artificial rocket booster that was identified in 2020 by the same Pan-STARRS telescope that discovered 'Oumuamua.
A predecessor to 'Oumuamua could have been a craft that deposited small probes into the Earth's atmosphere without being noticed, because it visited before Pan-STARRS started its operations.
Along this imaginative line of reasoning, 'Oumuamua could have arranged to appear as coming from the neutral local standard of rest, which serves as the local "galactic parking lot," so that its origin would remain unknown.
But rather than simply wonder about possible scenarios, we should collect better scientific data and clarify the nature of UAP. This can be done by deploying state-of-the-art cameras on wide-field telescopes that monitor the sky.
The sky is not classified; only government-owned sensors are.
By searching for unusual phenomena in the same geographical locations from where the UAP reports came, scientists could clear up the mystery in a transparent analysis of open data.
This story lines could violate some laws of physics....