A UFO professor who believes a space rock that passed through our solar system was aliens will lead a group of researchers in looking for extraterrestrial life elsewhere in the galaxy.
Astrobiologist Avi Loeb has a theory that a mysterious cigar-shaped rock detected within the Milky Way was a "sail" designed by some kind of alien civilisation.
'Oumuamua, estimated to be 200m in diameter, is the first interstellar object ever found in the Milky Way and was first spotted in 2017 by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS1 telescope while it was looking for comets and asteroids.
Prof Loeb will now head up The Galileo Project, which aims to identify the nature of unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP) and of interstellar 'Oumuamua-like objects using the standard scientific method based on transparent analysis of open scientific data.
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His project will also look for satellites created by extraterrestrial technological civilizations (ETCs).
The team will use artificial intelligence and look at data from existing and future astronomical surveys and high-resolution telescopes.
"After the recent release of the [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), the scientific community needs the determination to systematically, scientifically, and transparently look for potential evidence of extraterrestrial technological equipment," Prof Loeb said in a statement.
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"The impact of any discovery of extraterrestrial technology on science, our technology, and on our entire world view, would be enormous."
He added: "Given the recently discovered abundance of habitable-zone exoplanets, with potential for extraterrestrial life, the Galileo Project is dedicated to the proposition that humans can no longer ignore the possible existence of ETCs.
"Science should not reject potential extraterrestrial explanations because of social stigma or cultural preferences that are not conducive to the scientific method of unbiased, empirical inquiry.
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"We now must 'dare to look through new telescopes', both literally and figuratively."
Prof Loeb shot to fame for his views on ‘Oumuamua.
The long, cigar-shaped rock was observed by experts to be spinning and accelerating at a phenomenal speed, known as "non-gravitational acceleration," with some scientists baffled as to why.
So far the majority of experts agree 'Oumuamua is probably a new kind of comet propelled by a mechanism we simply don't understand yet.
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But astrobiologist Avi Loeb, the Frank J Baird Professor of Science at Harvard University, has quite a different take.
He believes the rock is the first sign of intelligent life outside our own planet and is a sign that a spacefaring civilisation is exploring, or did once explore, the universe.
"Although it came from outside the solar system, the initial assumption was that it would turn out to be like a comet from our solar system," he previously told the South China Morning Post.
"But a comet leaves a trail of gas behind it and there was nothing like that behind 'Oumuamua. So clearly it was not a comet."
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