A Harvard-led team is launching a new project to search for physical evidence of aliens and their technology

Artist's impression of 'Oumuamua
An artist’s impression of interstellar object ‘Oumuamua.

When the first interstellar object ever observed, ‘Oumuamua, careened past Earth in 2017, it seemed to be accelerating. That’s not what most space rocks do – which is in part why Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb says ‘Oumuamua was an alien spaceship.

Although most researchers agree that the object was a space rock – either a comet or piece of a tiny planet – Loeb thinks there are countless other objects like ‘Oumuamua whizzing by our planet, some of which could come from aliens, too. So he launched a program to find them.

On Monday, Loeb announced an initiative called the Galileo Project – after the Italian astronomer – that will search for physical evidence of alien technologies and civilizations.

“It’s a fishing expedition, let’s just go out and catch whatever fish we find,” Loeb said in a press conference. “And that includes objects close to Earth, hovering within our atmosphere, or objects that came from outside the solar system that look weird.”

The $1.75 million project, backed by at least four philanthropists, aims to use a network of Earth-based telescopes to look for interstellar objects that could be extraterrestrial in nature. The group will also hunt for potential alien ships in Earth’s orbit, as well as unidentified flying craft in our atmosphere.

Finding interstellar objects before they pass Earth

oumuamua 1I 2017 u1 solar system trajectory illustration comet asteroid or alien spaceship nasa swri esa stsci PIA22357_fig1
An illustration of ‘Oumuamua flying through the solar system in 2017.

By the time astronomers became aware of ‘Oumuamua’s existence, it was already zipping away at 196,000 mph. Several telescopes on the ground and one in space took limited observations, but astronomers had just a few weeks to study the strange, skyscraper-sized object before it got too far away.

That left many questions about what the object was and where it came from. In a book Loeb published in January, “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth,” he describes ‘Oumuamua as a defunct piece of alien technology.

“The object has anomalies that merit some attention – things that do not line up in the ways we expected,” Loeb told Insider ahead of the book’s publication, adding, “when something doesn’t line up, you should say it.”

Two years after ‘Oumuamua’s discovery, astronomers spotted a second interstellar object: a comet called 2I/Borisov. With the Galileo Project, Loeb and a team of 14 other researchers hope to spot future interstellar objects early as they approach Earth. To do this, they plan to use the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii and an 8-meter-wide telescope currently under construction at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile.

Early detection could enable scientists to send probes to these objects, according to Frank Laukien, a visiting scholar at Harvard and a co-founder of the Galileo Project.

“We should, next time, have much better data much earlier, and maybe land on them or get very, very close to them,” Laukien said in the press conference.

Searching for signs of extraterrestrial technology

vera rubin telescope
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope building at Vera Rubin observatory at Cerro Pachón, Chile, in September 2019.

Loeb describes the new project as complementary to the SETI Institute, which searches for extraterrestrial life using radio telescopes. But the Galileo Project, he said, will search for physical evidence of alien civilizations, rather than radio signals. That includes potential alien satellites that could be orbiting Earth or fragments of extraterrestrial craft. (One of Loeb’s hypotheses is that ‘Oumuamua is a piece of lightsail or antenna that broke off a larger ship.)

Loeb also plans to examine unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAPs, within Earth’s atmosphere.

Last month, US intelligence officials released a report describing 144 incidents since 2004 in which military personnel encountered UAPs. One of those incidents turned out to involve a deflating balloon, but the rest remain unexplained, the report concluded.

ufo uap pentagon triangle
A still from Navy footage of unidentified aerial phenomena.

“It’s an unusual admission by the government, saying there are objects in our sky we don’t fully understand,” Loeb said.

According to the Galileo Project’s website, these UAPs could be artifacts of an extinct alien civilizations or active extraterrestrial equipment. So the group hopes to image future UAPs in higher resolution by creating a network of 1-meter telescopes around the world.

Such telescopes, which cost about $500,000 each, can spot details just 1 millimeter in size on objects the size of a person a mile away.

“That could help us distinguish a label saying ‘thing made in country X,’ from a label saying, ‘made by exoplanet Y,'” Loeb said.

Avi Loeb Stephen Hawking 2016.JPG
Physicist Avi Loeb on stage in New York in 2016.

He added that the Galileo team plans to make its data public to encourage other scientists to engage in the search, too.

“Finding others on cosmic streets will help us mature – help us realize were not the sharpest cookies in the jar, and intelligent life that is way beyond us may exist out there,” Loeb said.

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A space-themed ETF that invests in ‘other-worldly’ opportunities just added UFO interference as a possible risk to fund performance

Still from a video showing a UFO filmed near San Diego in 2004, which was released by the Department of Defense in 2017

  • A space-focused ETF just added UFO interference as a possible risk to fund performance in its prospectus.
  • The ProcureAM Space ETF (ticker UFO) said flying objects could interfere with many of the satellite companies that the fund tracks.
  • The risk disclosure comes as a US government report on UFOs says it still can’t explain more than 140 sightings.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

A space-themed exchange traded fund just updated its prospectus to include a potential risk to fund performance: UFOs.

The manager behind the Procure Space ETF, which trades under the ticker UFO, said on Monday it added the unidentified aerial phenomena, or “UAP”, risk disclosure after top US intelligence and military officials released an report addressing numerous sightings of unexplainable objects.

The UFO ETF tracks companies involved in the space industry, including companies that use satellite technology which could be impacted by abnormal aerial activity.

“Given that currently there is no identification of these observed phenomena, it is possible that UAPs could create unintentional or deliberate operational, data security, ‘cyber’ and other interference with the operation of satellites and other objects in space,” the fund prospectus said. “Such activities could result in a significant adverse impact on the Fund’s securities, thereby causing the Fund’s investment in such portfolio securities to lose value and adversely affecting the Fund’s ability to fulfill its investment objectives.”

The $128 million AUM fund launched in 2019 and tracks an index that invests at least 80% of its net assets in companies that receive a majority of their revenue from space-related businesses. Along with satellite companies, the fund also holds space-based intelligence service companies, rocket operation companies, space hardware companies, and more.

Its fact-sheet entices investors with the promises of investing in “other-worldly” opportunities.

The ETF is up nearly 24% year-to-date.

“UFOs, once a figment of science fiction, have now captured mainstream attention and present legitimate national security concerns,” said Andrew Chanin, ProcureAM CEO and co-founder. “Whether originating from foreign adversaries or extraterrestrial activity, UAPs have potentially wide-reaching implications that we need to start taking seriously. We are truly just scratching the surface of what we know.”

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NASA is launching a further investigation into UFO sightings. The agency’s chief says it can’t rule out the possibility that sightings are of alien origin.

Still from a video showing a UFO filmed near San Diego in 2004, which was released by the Department of Defense in 2017.

  • NASA’s new chief is launching an investigation to further study UFOs.
  • There is no evidence that UFO sightings are of alien origin, but NASA is not ruling it out.
  • “The bottom line is, we want to know,” the chief told CNN.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

NASA’s new chief, Bill Nelson, is setting up an investigation to further study the existence of unidentified flying objects within his first month in office, CNN Business reports.

In an interview with the news outlet, Nelson said it’s still a mystery to everyone – even those at the top of the space agency – what exactly the high-speed flying objects detected by US Navy personnel are.

Nelson said he does not believe that UFOs point to evidence of extraterrestrials visiting Earth. “I think I would know” if that were the situation, he said. But he accepted it would be hasty to rule that out as a possibility.

“We don’t know if it’s extraterrestrial. We don’t know if it’s an enemy. We don’t know if it’s an optical phenomenon,” Nelson said. “We don’t think [it’s an optical phenomenon] because of the characteristics that those Navy jet pilots described … And so the bottom line is, we want to know.”

While no formal task force has been arranged yet, Nelson wants researchers to investigate the subject in depth.

The chief’s comments mirror a Pentagon report, which says there is no evidence that UFOs spotted by US Navy pilots are of alien origin – but so little is known about them that it can’t be ruled out, as reported by The New York Times.

One possible explanation the report will propose is that UFOs are advanced technology from other countries, The Times reported.

“There’s not really a lot of data and…scientists should be free to follow these leads, and it shouldn’t be stigmatized,” Jackie McGuinness, a NASA press secretary, told CNN.

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‘A flying Tic Tac wasn’t part of our plan’: Former US Navy fighter pilot describes encounter with UFO

F/A-18E Super Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 “Knighthawks” fly in formation during a photo exercise over California.
F/A-18E Super Hornets in formation over California.

  • Over the years, there have been a number of incidents in which US pilots reported seeing UFOs.
  • A former Navy pilot talked to Insider about her experience with an “unidentified aerial phenomenon.”
  • She was one of two F/A-18 pilots who observed the mystery object, nicknamed the “Tic Tac,” in 2004.
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A former US Navy fighter pilot recently shared details and some of her thoughts on an unusual experience almost two decades ago, an encounter with an unidentified flying object nicknamed the “Tic Tac.”

In mid-November 2004, as the Navy’s Nimitz Carrier Strike Group trained off the West Coast in preparation for an upcoming deployment, the destroyer USS Princeton detected several UFOs, also called anomalous aerial vehicles or unidentified aerial phenomena, moving in inexplicable ways around the carrier group.

On Nov. 14, 2004, after again detecting one of the anomalies, the destroyer tasked two F/A-18 Super Hornets to take a look around the area where it had been detected. The fighters were flown by Dave Fravor, then a squadron commander, and Alex Dietrich, then a lieutenant junior grade.

Once they arrived in the area, the pilots got a visual on a mysterious object, which was reported to be “an elongated egg or a ‘Tic Tac’ shape” that was “solid white, smooth, with no edges,” and “uniformly colored with no nacelles, pylons, or wings,” according to a military report on the event obtained a few years ago by a CBS News affiliate.

During a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Fravor recalled seeing “this little white Tic Tac-looking object” moving above the water with, as Dietrich noted, “no predictable movement” and “no predictable trajectory.”

Not ‘part of our plan’

Alex Dietrich
Alex Dietrich.

“This didn’t fit our script,” Dietrich, who retired as a lieutenant commander, told Insider, explaining that the carrier group and the accompanying air wing were training for a deployment to the Middle East, where they might be called upon to provide precision strikes, convoy oversight, and air support, among various other missions and tasks.

“A flying Tic Tac wasn’t part of our plan,” she said, recalling their encounter with the object.

In the recent “60 Minutes” interview, Dietrich described the experience as “unsettling.” Neither aircraft was armed at the time, and she said she “felt the vulnerability of not having anything to defend ourselves.”

Talking with Insider, the former naval aviator said that it was not entirely clear how she or her commander were expected to react and respond to the mystery object, which they were not expecting to encounter.

“We do air-to-air scenarios where we expect to encounter adversary aircraft, and we have set plans for how we approach them,” Dietrich explained. “But these assume that it is a generation of fighter we would be at least familiar enough with.”

She said that at that time, she “had not been briefed on any protocol for intercepting or merging with a UAP.”

During the encounter, Dietrich remained overhead as Fravor moved in to investigate. As the commander got closer to the unidentified object, which Fravor said was about the size of his plane, it suddenly accelerated and disappeared. A different Navy flight later caught the object on infrared video.

The US military officially declassified that video last year, along with a couple of others from different incidents, and noted in a statement that the phenomena seen in these videos are still “unidentified.” The following video is from the 2004 “Tic Tac” incident.

‘We don’t know what it was’

Dietrich recalled that she experienced a “roller coaster of emotions” during the 2004 incident, with feelings running from excited to nervous. She said that her primary concern was figuring out whether it was an adversary, some sort of threat, or a even just a flight safety issue. They didn’t figure that out, and it is still not clear what it was.

Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about this incident and others, but Dietrich told Insider that she did not let her mind “run away with wild conclusions or fantasies about what it might be.”

“I gave my report, and I went on with my life and my career,” she said, acknowledging that she has not followed this matter closely in the years since.

Dietrich revealed that at the time of the incident she was a little “disappointed” by the lack of response.

“If I had been in charge of the carrier strike group and had heard this report, I probably would have redirected assets. We had all of these aircraft and sensors and radar to collect information in that moment,” she said, adding that she is not sure “why the decision was made not to pivot in that moment and redirect focus.”

Fravor and Dietrich told “60 Minutes” that while they were debriefed, they were not aware of any further investigation into what happened that day in 2004.

“We don’t know what it was, but it was there. We saw it, and it is worth investigating further,” Dietrich told Insider.

Dietrich’s personal interest in this issue has faded over time.

“It mattered to me on November 14, 2004,” she said. “It mattered very much because I was there face-to-face with it, and it could have been a threat … In the years and now decades since, it doesn’t matter as much to me.”

‘Not jumping to conclusions’

flir gimbal gofast pentagon releases ufo videos
Left to right, still images from FLIR, GIMBAL, and GOFAST videos of unidentified aerial phenomena released by the Pentagon.

Dietrich told Insider that by answering questions about her experiences, she hopes that if and when these incidents occur, and there have been a few, the military will “take a training time out” and “spend some resources investigating” to determine whether or not what is being observed is a danger. She also said she hopes to reduce the stigma around reporting these incidents.

This is potentially more likely given the military’s newfound interest in these incidents.

The Pentagon created the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program in 2007, but the program ended in 2012 as the military directed its attention to “higher priority issues,” a Pentagon spokesperson told CNN in 2017 after The New York Times dragged the program out of the shadows.

But last year, just a few months after the Pentagon declassified several videos of unexplained incidents, the Department of Defense publicly established the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force “to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to US national security.”

Dietrich’s story is unusual but not necessarily unique. There have been a number of unexplained UFO sightings by US service members. One former naval aviator, retired Lt. Ryan Graves, told “60 Minutes” recently that there was a time when they saw them “every day for at least a couple of years.”

The US Navy, explaining new policies for reporting encounters with unidentified aircraft, told Politico in 2019 that “there have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years.”

These sightings have raised a lot of questions and provided few real answers, but next month, the US intelligence community is expected to present an unclassified report on these “unidentified aerial phenomena.” It is not clear whether this report will shed light on what pilots and others have been seeing.

As for what the unexplained incidents involving the military might mean, Dietrich, a veteran pilot who flew over 200 combat missions during her career in the Navy, did not speculate. She said she would “urge patience and not jumping to conclusions.”

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Obama jokes he was told there’s no secret government alien lab but said video of UFOs is real

Former US President Barack Obama speaks during a drive-in campaign rally for President Joe Biden at Northwestern High School on October 31, 2020 in Flint, Michigan.

  • A former Navy pilot said pilots training off the US coast saw UFOs every day.
  • The sightings are being investigated by a Department of Defense special task force.
  • Former President Barack Obama joked of his own curiosity about aliens and said sightings are real.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Barack Obama joked that he was told there was no secret lab testing alien samples when he took office in 2008 but acknowledged that footage of unidentified aircraft was real.

During an interview on“The Late Late Show with James Corden,” Obama was asked to weigh in on reports of UFOs.

“When it comes to aliens, there are some things I just can’t tell you on air,” Obama joked.

A former US Navy pilot told CBS’s 60 Minutes earlier this week that pilots training off the US coast sighted UFOs – also known as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) – nearly every day.

Videos of the incidents were declassified in 2019 and the Department of Defense launched a special task force to investigate them last August. A report on the sightings is expected in June.

The former president said he asked about the topic when he became president.

“I was like alright, is there the lab somewhere where we’re keeping the alien specimens and spaceship? And you know, they did a little bit of research and the answer was no,” he joked.

Obama confirmed that there’s footage and records of unidentified objects in the skies.

“We don’t know exactly what they are, we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory. They did not have an easily explainable pattern. And so, you know, I think that people still take seriously trying to investigate and figure out what that is. But I have nothing to report to you today, ” Obama said.

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The Pentagon’s watchdog is going to investigate the military’s response to UFOs

ufo uap pentagon footage
A still from the Navy footage of unidentified aerial phenomena.

  • The Defense Department’s inspector general is launching its own investigation into UFOs.
  • The inspector general’s evaluation is the latest inquiry into UFOs now underway in the Pentagon.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Defense Department’s inspector general is launching its own investigation into what the military calls “unidentified aerial phenomena” – better known as UFOs.

In an announcement Monday, the Office of Inspector General said that beginning this month, it will start evaluating “the extent to which the DoD has taken actions regarding unidentified aerial phenomena.”

A memo posted online said the IG will conduct the evaluation at the office of the secretary of Defense, military services, combatant commands, combat support agencies, Defense agencies and military criminal investigative organizations.

Randolph Stone, assistant inspector general for evaluations for space, intelligence, engineering and oversight, said in that memo that the objective may be revised as the evaluation proceeds, and that more locations to be evaluated may be identified.

The IG’s evaluation is now the latest inquiry into the potential existence of UFOs now underway in the Pentagon.

The fiscal 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, which was passed in December as part of a massive omnibus COVID-19 relief bill, contained a provision that ordered intelligence agencies and the Defense Department to report to lawmakers what they know about unidentified aerial phenomena within six months.

The Pentagon last August also launched a Navy-led task force to track down any encounters service members may have had with aerial objects that could pose a threat to national security.

That move came a few months after the Pentagon officially acknowledged three incidents reported by Navy F/A-18 Hornet fighter pilots involving possible UFO sightings. And the Pentagon also confirmed and officially released videos of the incidents, one from November 2004 and two from January 2015, which had been leaked to the public years ago.

But contrary to what “The X-Files” taught us, the story behind military encounters with unidentified flying objects may be more mundane than extraterrestrial visits to Earth.

In April, the website The Drive published an investigation into aerial phenomena that concluded they are most likely drones or other unmanned aircraft, of varying levels of sophistication, that are spying on the US military’s capabilities.

– Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

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A former intelligence official says an upcoming government report will detail ‘difficult to explain’ UFO sightings

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

  • A former intelligence official said the government is preparing to release a report on UFOs.
  • The report will detail UFO sightings, former National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said.
  • Many of the sightings are “difficult to explain,” he said, speaking to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A top intelligence official under former President Donald Trump said on Friday that the government plans to release a report declassifying numerous UFO sightings.

“There are a lot more sightings than have been made public,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.

“Some of those have been declassified. And when we talk about sightings, we are talking about objects that have seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain,” he continued. “Movements that are hard to replicate that we don’t have the technology for. Or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”

Ratcliffe’s remarks come months after the Pentagon released three videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” – more commonly referred to as UFOs – after years of speculation about them.

The videos, captured on Navy aircraft cameras with infrared targeting systems, show black shapes floating and sometimes accelerating at incredible speeds against the wind as baffled pilots watch.

Former Sen. Harry Reid, who funneled $22 million into the government’s UFO investigations, said in a tweet that the Pentagon’s release of the videos “only scratches the surface” of what the government has on file.

flir gimbal gofast pentagon releases ufo videos
Left to right, stills from FLIR, GIMBAL and GOFAST videos released by the Pentagon of unidentified aerial phenomena

“The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications,” Reid said. “The American people deserve to be informed.”

Ratcliffe said Friday there have been reports of sightings “all over the world.”

“When we talk about sightings, the other thing I will tell you is, it’s not just a pilot or just a satellite, or some intelligence collection,” Ratcliffe continued. “Usually we have multiple sensors that are picking up these things, and so again some of these are just unexplained phenomenon, and there is actually quite a few more than have been made public.”

Ratcliffe also added that intelligence officials try to look for a “plausible explanation” behind all unidentified flying aircrafts. But sometimes, he said, officials aren’t able to justify their presence.

“Weather can cause disturbances, visual disturbances,” he said. “Sometimes we wonder whether or not our adversaries have technologies that are a little bit further down the road than we thought or that we realized. But there are instances where we don’t have good explanations for some of the things that we have seen.”

The Pentagon is expected to release the report by June 1, Bartiromo said during the interview.

The Department of Defense did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Additional reporting by Mia Jankowicz

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