Subject: IUFO: Alien Artifacts in the Solar System?


  Alien Artifacts in the Solar System?

Published August 16th, 2006 in Articles.
In late 1991 a strange object approached and passed within celestial
spitting distance of the Earth, causing surprise, and some disquiet,
among astronomers before vanishing back into the depths of space.
The object was catalogued as ¡°1991 VG,¡± and to this day it remains a
Spotted on November 6, 1991, by astronomer Jim Scotti, 1991 VG was
initially thought to be an NEO¡ª
a Near Earth Object, probably an asteroid, of which there are many that
periodically pass by too close for comfort and of which the public is
blissfully unaware. At the time of discovery, 1991 VG was approximately
2,046,000 miles from Earth and heading inbound rapidly. Scotti, who was
tracking with the small Spacewatch telescope at Kitt Peak National
Observatory, Arizona, described it as a ¡°fast-moving asteroidal
Continued observation revealed that the object did not appear to be an
asteroid, or at least it didn¡¯t behave like one. For instance, it had a
tendency to ¡°wink¡±: to become roughly three times brighter, then dark
again, every seven and one-half minutes, behavior akin to that of a
rotating artificial satellite. This led to speculation that 1991 VG was
perhaps an expended rocket booster drifting through interplanetary space,
maybe even an old Saturn V booster from the Apollo moon-launch days of
the late 1960s and early ¡¯70s.
As the object continued to approach Earth, astronomers at the European
Southern Observatory (ESO) in La Silla, Chile, began tracking with a
60-inch telescope. At this point, the media became aware that something
was going on and press statements were issued. Meanwhile, the ESO team
(astronomers Richard West, Olivier Hainaut, and Alain Smette) conducted
precise measurements of the ¡°winking¡± and confirmed that the phenomenon
was reminiscent of the pulsations of light observed on reflective,
rotating artificial satellites.
The mystery object came closest to Earth on December 5, 1991, when it
passed 51,000 miles beyond the orbit of the Moon, or a distance from the
Earth of about 288,300 miles, hardly any distance at all when measured on
an interplanetary scale. Then it began drifting away. An estimate of the
object¡¯s size suggested a diameter of anywhere from 33 to 62 feet, small
for an asteroid but about right for an expended rocket booster or
possibly a large piece of spacecraft debris. Indeed, the object was small
enough so that it was visible only as a pinpoint of light when viewed
through the 2.9-foot-diameter Spacewatch telescope.
Four months later, on April 27, 1992, now well away from the Earth but
following a path around the sun that was remarkably similar to the
Earth¡¯s orbit, 1991 VG was again detected by astronomers at Kitt Peak,
this time with a larger telescope. It was to be the last reported
sighting of the object before it vanished from ground-based visual range.
Three years passed. 1991 VG was all but forgotten, at least by the media.
Then, in April 1995, a highly respected astronomer and author published
an article that not only re-opened the debate about 1991 VG, but took the
discussion to a whole new level.
The astronomer was Duncan Steel, then associated with the University of
Adelaide in Australia, and today with the University of Salford in the
United Kingdom. His article, ¡°SETA and 1991 VG¡± (SETA referring to
¡°Search for ExtraTerrestrial Artifacts¡±), appeared in The Observatory,
a recognized science journal published in the UK.
In the article, Steel dared to suggest what other astronomers had no
doubt considered but were too guarded to openly discuss: that 1991 VG
might not just be artificial, but might, in fact, be a probe of
extraterrestrial origin!
Three Possibilities
Steel, who has a reputation for being painstakingly thorough, was no less
careful when stating his case for 1991 VG.
¡°The approach here,¡± he said in the Observatory article, ¡°is to
investigate the different probabilities for the nature of this object,
given our incomplete knowledge.¡± He then cited three distinct
 ¡°The first is that it [1991 VG] was a natural asteroid¡­
the second is that it was a man-made spacecraft [a spent rocket booster
or an early probe launched into heliocentric orbit]. The third is that it
was an alien artifact.¡±
In considering the three possibilities, Steel said his ¡°personal bias¡±
was that 1991 VG was artificial but ¡°anthropogenic,¡± meaning it
originated on Earth. Using the available orbital data and calculating
backwards, he determined that the object was last near Earth during
February or March 1975, and before that during the late 1950s.
(With limited information concerning the object, he was unable to be more
precise about the earlier date.)
Studying the early launch records, the astronomer found that there were
relatively few spacecraft that could conceivably explain the existence of
1991 VG, and some of these were easily eliminated. He cited seven robot
craft launched from October 1958 to March 1960. They included the Pioneer
probes 1, 3, 4, and 5, and the Luna probes 1, 2, and 3.
However, he pointed out that these probes were ¡°generally small
objects,¡± some of which were known to have reentered the Earth¡¯s
atmosphere, and one (Luna 2) had by all accounts crashed on the Moon.
Moving forward, Steel eliminated the probe Luna 23, launched in October
1974, which successfully landed on the Moon. There was, however, Helios
1, launched into heliocentric orbit in December 1974, and the probe
Venera 9, sent to Venus in June 1975. But unless something had affected
the trajectory of these two probes and their boosters ¡°such as radiation
pressure or leaking fuel,¡± Steel said it was unlikely they could account
for the presence of 1991 VG.
(Expended boosters from the manned Apollo series were not considered
because the Apollo missions were flown between October 1968 and December
1972, too early for the 1975 window of opportunity.)
Along with eliminating all known launches that fit his criteria, Steel
pointed to the exceedingly low odds of a returning spacecraft or booster
ever being detected by an instrument as small as the Spacewatch
telescope. He estimated the chances of an accidental detection at no
greater than one in 100,000 per year.
Not an Asteroid
Steel next turned his attention to the idea that 1991 VG was a ¡°natural
body;¡± i.e., an asteroid. He quickly eliminated this possibility. In
part, he based his rationale on the aforementioned ¡°winking,¡± the
regular light flashes exhibited by the object, which he said were
¡°distinctly similar to rotating artificial satellite trails.¡± He also
noted that gravitational forces arising from the closely aligned paths of
the Earth and 1991 VG should have eventually kicked the object into an
unstable orbit. However, 1991 VG¡¯s orbit seemed inherently stable, so he
felt fairly confident that it was a new arrival (in stellar terms) and
therefore probably not an asteroid.
All of which left the scientist with only one other logical
consideration: that 1991 VG was an extraterrestrial probe or an alien
artifact of some sort. But if the object was truly alien, then, said
Steel, it begs the question: was it under control when it passed by Earth
or simply following a random path? In other words, was it operational, or
was it inert or a derelict?
Steel concluded his article by noting that a continual search of the
heavens should be made for other suspicious objects. In so saying, he
invoked a paradox originally put forth by the brilliant physicist Enrico
Fermi (1901¨C1954).
Simply put, the ¡°Fermi Paradox¡± questioned the commonly held belief
that the galaxy, with its multitude of stars, must inevitably have
produced a multitude of advanced alien cultures. Fermi wanted to know
why, if these civilizations are so unavoidable, we¡¯ve uncovered no
evidence of them, such as probes, spacecraft, or transmissions. He
decided that the fact that we haven't is paradoxical, thereby suggesting
a flaw either in our method of reasoning or in our observations.
Put another way, if extraterrestrials actually exist, would we recognize
one of their probes if it flew right by our planet?
New Object

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