The “Interstellar Alien Tech Meteor” signal was actually just vibrations from a local truck

The controversial claims that an interstellar meteor possibly containing alien technology struck Earth a decade ago are on even shakier ground – literally. Last year, pieces of the meteor were collected from the ocean off Papua New Guinea, although later analysis questioned the “alien technology” nature of the recovered spheroids. Now it appears that the sound waves that the team claimed were linked to the fireball actually came from the shaking of a nearby truck driving by.

What we do know is that on January 8, 2014, a meteor entered the atmosphere and burned brightly. Using a recording from a seismometer on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea that they linked to the meteor, controversial and prolific Harvard professor Avi Loeb and his team calculated that the object’s speed was consistent with that of an interstellar object. If confirmed, it would be only the third known interstellar visitor to the solar system, and the first to reach Earth. The recording also led them to imagine a location in the ocean where the debris might have landed and sunk.

In 2022, US military officials confirmed the interstellar object and the meteor’s official name, CNEOS 2014-01-08, was used interchangeably with Interstellar Meteor 1. However, subsequent analysis shows that the object’s speed was substantially overestimated and may not have been was so high. interstellar origin after all.

Loeb and colleagues went to Papua New Guinea and collected samples of these beads, without permission from the country itself, which has since accused them of “theft”. The spheroids contained peculiar elements that led the team to suggest, among other hypotheses, that “this unknown abundance pattern could reflect an extraterrestrial technological origin.”

Now a team from Johns Hopkins University claims their seismic analysis is also wrong. What they linked to the meteor was “almost certainly” the movement of a truck traveling on a nearby road. Moreover, they presented evidence that the meteor entered the atmosphere elsewhere and if it ended up as fragments in the ocean, they did so in a very different place than where Loeb and team had calculated.

“The signal changed direction over time and corresponded exactly to a path passing the seismometer,” Benjamin Fernando, a planetary seismologist at Johns Hopkins who led the study, said in a statement. “It’s really hard to take a signal and confirm that it’s not coming from somewhere. But what we can do is show that there are a lot of these kinds of signals, and show that they have all the characteristics we expect from a truck and none of the characteristics we expect from a meteor.”

view of the surroundings from space.  a truck road is marked and runs around the seismometer location.

A satellite image of the seismographic station on Manus Island used by the researchers. A truck road is clearly visible.

Image credits: Roberto Molar Candanosa and Benjamin Fernando/Johns Hopkins University, with images from Cnes/Airbus via Google.

Based on their new analysis, Fernando’s team estimated that the most likely place where the meteor would have landed is more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) away from the area surveyed.

“The location of the fireball was actually very far from where the oceanographic expedition went to retrieve these meteor fragments,” Fernando added. “Not only were they using the wrong signal, they were looking in the wrong place.”

But you could say they found “spheres” of extraterrestrial origin! I read it online! Well, another researcher’s analysis has already shown how the anomalous composition was consistent with man-made pollution, stating that “the meteoritic evidence is let down.”

As NASA Ames astrobiologist Caleb Scharf noted on Twitter, “Well, they did find evidence of a technological civilization… right here on Earth.”

Fernando’s team will present the findings on March 12 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

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