Space Strategy - Episode 36: Dr. Avi Loeb: Light-Sails, UAPS, Extraterrestrial Objects and Seeding the Milky Way

Related Categories: Science and Technology; SPACE; NASA; China
Related Expert: Peter Garretson

In this episode, Peter Garretson hosts Dr. Avi Loeb, Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Institute for Theory and Computation, head of the Galileo Project, and Chair of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative Advisory Committee. They discuss recent discoveries of extraterrestrial objects (Oumuamua, Comet Borisov, and 2 meteors). They discuss the big ideas in his book Extraterrestrial, including the hypothesis that Oumuamua might be a lightsail from an alien civilization. Interestingly, Avi’s team is trying to create one via the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative–Avi hopes to achieve 10% the speed of light with a laser-lightsail carrying a Starchip to get to our closest neighbor star Proxima Centauri. They address the story of the 2014 meteor, journal rejection, as well as, the story behind the USSPACECOM release of the data on the extraterrestrial meteor, and Avi’s plans to recover it. They cover Avi’s recent paper, ‘PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS ON UNIDENTIFIED AERIAL PHENOMENA’ for the Pentagon’s AARO, the controversial headline it created (‘Pentagon UFO chief says alien mothership in our solar system possible’), and why the subject of UAP’s or extraterrestrial civilization is a puzzlingly taboo subject in the science community despite significant public and government interests. They consider UAP’s, and the efforts of Project Galileo to capture anomalous signatures, and what sort of funding would be required to deploy at scale. They review the White House tasking to DoD for Planetary Defense, and the utility of looking for extraterrestrial signatures as part of an in-space Space Domain Awareness (SDA) sensor architecture. Finally, they question what potential discoveries might arise from attempting to test the extraterrestrial hypothesis, a long-term vision for the preservation of humanity and its values and seeding the galaxy with life and intelligence, as well as short-term opportunities for policy to align government (and perhaps even USSF) funding on extraterrestrial objects, SETI, and UAP with public interests.