An “Alien Artifact” Is Set to Pass Earth in 2017

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November 6, 1991 started as a relatively ordinary night for astronomer James Scotti. While working at the University of Arizona’s Kitt Peak telescope, Scotti was looking at the cosmos for asteroids when he discovered a minor, fast moving object with extremely strange features. Just 10 meters in diameter, the object showed a strange rate of rotation, fluctuations in brightness and speed for its mass and size, signifying that it was something other than your “run-of-the-mill” central belt asteroid. Another strange thing about this object was its heliocentric orbit unusually similar to that of Earth. Scotti traced the object, now recognized as 1991 VG, for the next two upcoming nights and just after he had enough data to plot a its initial orbit, he was astounded to find that the object would be fleeting within nearly .003 au (280,000 miles) of Earth the following month. Although asteroids fleeting through Earth’s neighborhood are definitely no uncommonness, they also tend not to last very long as they are likely to strike the planet or be flung into a different orbit when they pass by.

Yet as Scotti continued to collect data on 1991 VG, it turn out to be clear that this was at least the object’s second Earth flyby. The earlier close pass happened around March of 1975. The object’s durability instantly provoked Scotti’s suspicion, leading him to wonder that it might have been built by someone or probably something. Scotti told Motherboard “We looked into all the possibilities for it being man-made. There were a few possible spacecraft and rocket bodies that might be 1991 VG, but when we looked into each, we were able to eliminate each of them.”

In 1995, Duncan Steel, an astronomer then associated with the University of Adelaide, published an article in The Observatory speculating on the nature of this strange object, counting the likelihood that it was alien in origin. He noted that the fact that “none of the a few of man-made rocket bodies left in heliocentric orbits during the space age have purely gravitational orbits coming back to the Earth” Which means “it might be debated that 1991 VG is a candidate as an alien probe detected in the locality of our planet.”
Steel said “I do not think [VG 1991] is of extraterrestrial origin. I do think that we should take seriously the possibility that there are alien artefacts in the solar system, although I very much doubt that there are any, based on what we know so far.”

Scotti, in contrast, has not completely ruled out a natural origin for this unknown object. According to him, 1991 VG showed rare variations in brightness, which proposed that the object was spinning very quickly with just a few minutes from peak to peak. An astronomical (asteroid or something like that) object as small as 1991 VG, a rotation period of just a few minutes, while infrequent, is not completely impossible but very, very rare.

Scotti said “My question is where did 1991 VG come from and how did it get into its present orbit? One possibility would be that it is ejecta from a lunar impact. Another possibility is that the Yarkovsky force, caused by the thermal emissions of a rotating object, systematically pushed the object around over long times. It's still a puzzle!”

So the good thing is that we don’t have to wait very long to solve the mystery of 1991 VG. 1991 VG is once again making a close pass in the summer of 2017, but it will be far from Earth than in 1991 and only observable from the Southern Hemisphere.

One thing to be mentioned here (again), there’s always the chance that it’s a responsive alien probe, in which situation we should perhaps start getting prepared for the invasion.

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