THE US government's seal of approval of a Harvard professor's finding opens the door for the possibility that life from another galaxy reached earth in 2014.
An object crashed with the energy force equivalent to a percentage of the Hiroshima bomb into the Bismarck Sea off the coast of Papa New Guinea, well-respected Harvard professor Dr Avi Loeb said.
He and his student Dr Amir Siraj argued in a 2019 scientific paper that the object wasn't a meteor, which was the original thought, but instead an interstellar object from outside the solar system.
They wrote the object "likely traveled from the deep interior of a planetary system or a star in the thick disk of the Milky Way galaxy."
The paper wasn't well received by the scientific community, Loeb said, until the US Space Force's Space Operations Command officially confirmed their findings in April.
That was a "watershed moment," Loeb told The Sun.
"The detection of this meteor offers new prospects for 'interstellar panspermia,' namely the transfer of life between planets that reside in the habitable zones of different stars," Loeb wrote in one of his Medium posts.
The fact that it came from outside of the solar system and didn't completely burn up when it entered the earth's atmosphere opens the door to the possibility that a micro-organism survived the journey.
Loeb, who started the Galileo Project to find out if there are any extraterrestrial objects of technological origin, is planning the expedition to the crash site.
"This would be our first chance of putting our hands on materials from a large object, a meteor in size, that came from far away outside the solar system," Loeb said.
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"The question is is it natural in origin? Is it some unusual, very tough rock because we know it's tougher than iron based on the fireball it created in the lower part of the atmosphere?
"Or is it artificial in origin? Imagine the new horizons."
WHAT IS 'PANSPERMIA?'
Panspermia is the hypothesis that microscopic life-forms, such as bacteria, can be transported from one planet to another through artificial means or natural-occurring phenomena like meteors and create new life.
Think of it like this.
The US sends exploratory technology into space - such as the Mars rover - and it accidentally brings an earth-based bacteria that survived the journey and can survive the planet's conditions.
Theoretically, it can create new life in space.
"The likelihood of Galactic panspermia is strongly dependent upon the survival lifetime of the putative organisms as well as the velocity of the transporter," a 2018 scientific paper concluded.
Loeb, along with Idan Ginsburg and Manasvi Lingam, wrote the 2018 paper about "Galactic Panspermia."
The concept has been around for thousands of years, but it's largely unproven, untested, and disregarded.
That was until 2017, when a football-sized, cigar or pancake-shaped object ripped through the solar system at 196,000 miles per hour and was thought to be the first interstellar object to come close to the earth.
The presence of the mysterious object - dubbed "Oumuamua" - cracked the door open for the possibility that a thousand-plus-year-old, controversial theory may be plausible.
Loeb and Siraj's finding - and subsequent seal of approval - now recognizes the object off of Papa New Guinea is the first interstellar object; predating "Oumuamua" by three years.
Loeb and the Galileo Project are prepping for a trip to the crash site to find fragment samples, test them and work on several theories, including interstellar panspermia.