Monday, August 9, 2021

Some Thoughts on the new Galileo Project


By now, most readers have heard about The Galileo Project for the Systematic Scientific Search for Evidence of Extraterrestrial Technological Artifacts,   headed up by Professor Avi Loeb, Harvard Astronomy Department Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian. "Daring to Look Through New Telescopes" is how they describe their focus. Dr. Loeb, who has excellent credentials as an astrophysicist, brings a lot of credibility to a subject that has frankly lacked credibility in most of its endeavors.

What will the Galileo Project do? On its "Activities" page, the Project lists three "major areas of research". Let's look at each one.

1. "Obtain High-resolution, Multi-detector UAP Images, Discover their Nature."

A picture is worth a thousand words. For example, a megapixel image of the surface of a human-scale UAP object at a distance of a mile will allow to distinguish the label: “Made in Country X” from the potential alternative “Made by ETC Y” on a nearby exoplanet in our galaxy. This goal will be accomplished by searching for UAP with a network of mid-sized, high-resolution telescopes and detector arrays with suitable cameras and computer systems, distributed in select locations. The data will be open to the public and the scientific analysis will be transparent.
As if you can just set up telescopes and get good, clear photographs of UFOs (or UAPs). Excuse me, Dr. Loeb, but you have no idea how many other people already have automated cameras pointing at the sky. Most are for astronomy, but some are for UFOlogy. And so far, none of them have turned up any objects that are both clearly seen, and yet unidentified.

Catalina Sky Survey -

The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) is a NASA funded project supported by the Near Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO) under the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). We are based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.  Our mission at CSS is fully dedicated to discover and track near-Earth objects (NEOs) in an effort to meet the congressional mandate to catalogue at least 90 percent of the estimated population of NEOs larger than 140 meters, some of which classify as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) which pose an impact threat to Earth. Longstanding success of the project is attributable to our comprehensive sky coverage, continued development and application of innovative software and our NEO detection pipeline, and the inclusion of near real-time human attention to the NEO discovery and follow-up process.
Designed to hunt for asteroids in the earth's vicinity, it has been very successful. But it hasn't yet turned up anything of alien manufacture.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey -  Starting in 2000 and continuing today, it has obtained many, many thousands of images of stars and galaxies, covering a large portion of the entire sky. All of these images are publicly available. Where are the UFOs?

Starlight Xpress Oculus All-Sky Camera
w/ 180 Degree Lens. $1,100.

Miscellaneous All-sky Cameras: Many private observatories operate all-sky cameras that show what is happening in the sky, via the internet. In fact, a major astronomy dealer sells an all-sky camera, in case you think you will find something worth recording. Yet with all these cameras in operation, UFOs still somehow manage to avoid them.
Meteor tracking cameras:  Scattered across the entire globe are networks of cameras to record meteors, which are very successful. Successful at recording meteors, but for some reason not "UAPs".
Special effects guru Douglas Trumbull and Marc D'Antonio of MUFON  announced plans to set up the UFOTOG project.  UFOTOG I was built, and UFOTOG II, was planned. It is a multiple sensor device that would look for anomalous objects not only visually, but with magnetometers, gravity meters, spectroscopy, gamma ray and other detectors. Large numbers of them will be manufactured to get the costs down, and they will be placed on top of poles in areas where UFOs are being reported. Apparently, it didn't happen.

Then there is UFODAP - the UFO Data Acquisition Project. "The technical focus of UFODAP is to apply current methods of science and technology to recognize, track and record anomalous objects while simultaneously collecting data from multiple sensors. It is our goal to expand a growing network of these sensor systems to other hot spots around North America and then the world." 

Sky Hub UAP Tracker

The Sky Hub UAP Tracker,  an "open source citizen science project.. we have a growing community with 1500+ members."

Join the Science Based Pursuit of UAPs. A world wide search for UAPs using a global network of machine learning, smart cameras and sensor arrays, open-source software for the largest observational science project in history.

Nor are all such proposed UFO camera programs are relatively recent, like these are. An article in LOOK Magazine, "Hunt For The Flying Saucer" (July 1, 1952) described the  special cameras that would soon be looking for UFOs:

Under ATIC direction, a physicist at the University of California at Los Angeles [unnamed] is developing and testing a special camera to photograph flying saucers.  Key to the new apparatus is a defraction grid consisting of a piece of glass etched with infinitely fine lines.  Placed over the camera lens, this grid breaks down the image into slivers from which scientists can determine its composition.  If the saucers prove to be bodies which glow, the grid will record the material they are made of.  If their light comes from a fuel supply or a reflection, the grid will identify the light.

Among the first to be tested will be Dr. Menzel’s theory that saucers are, in reality, lights bounced upward from the earth’s surface.  As Dr. Menzel independently suggested, the first defraction-grid cameras will be located in the southwestern U.S., which has had a concentration of saucer sightings.  Two hundred cameras will be built and distributed to atomic-plant guards, airbase tower operators and radar men.  Pictures will be sped to scientists who will then be able to give the world its  first incontrovertible word on flying saucers.

So, almost seventy years ago there was a serious government proposal to build special cameras to study UFOs. But so far as I am aware. no such cameras were ever deployed, probably because it was realized that there was no way to force UFOs to come and have their picture taken. 

What I would like to ask Dr. Loeb is: given the already large number of automated cameras pointing skyward, with more planned to follow, what makes you think you can get good, clear images of "UAPs" when nobody else has recorded much of anything interesting? What will you do differently? Where will you position your cameras? 

And why will notoriously shy UAPs reveal themselves to your cameras, but not to the many others?

 2. Search for and In-Depth Research on ‘Oumuamua-like Interstellar Objects 

The Galileo Project research group also will utilize existing and future astronomical surveys, such as the future Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST)[1] at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (VRO), to discover and monitor the properties of interstellar visitors to the Solar system.
We will conceptualize and design, potentially in collaboration with interested space agencies or space ventures, a launch-ready space mission to image unusual interstellar objects such as ‘Oumuamua by intercepting their trajectories on their approach to the Sun or by using ground-based survey telescopes to discover interstellar meteors.
Actually, this sounds quite worthwhile, although I suspect it greatly overlaps with current and planned research activity. When new interstellar interlopers are discovered, there is no doubt that they will be studied by the best available earth-based telescopes, with or without Project Galileo. Even if the objects are not artificial, which they almost certainly are not, they are nonetheless worthy of careful study. (My previous posting explains why it's extremely unlikely that 'Oumuamua is artificial.) And having a "a launch-ready space mission to image unusual interstellar objects" is an excellent idea, although it will require the cooperation of NASA or some other space agency. After all, we have already sent missions out to intercept known asteroids and comets, and it would not be any different to rendezvous with interstellar ones (although interstellar objects will be traveling faster than objects orbiting the sun).  So we'd better be ready to launch whenever they show up.

I was a bit surprised to see "using ground-based survey telescopes to discover interstellar meteors," because there is as yet no evidence that interstellar meteors actually exist. I see no reason they could not exist, but they would be rare, and given the large number of meteoroids in our solar system, finding the interstellar one would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But astronomers using sky survey photos of meteors taken from multiple locations (see above) already derive orbital parameters showing where the meteoroid had been before it encountered the earth. If that orbit happens to be a parabola and not an ellipse, then that meteor came in from interstellar space. Looking for such rare hypothetical meteors in a slew of ordinary ones will keep a lot of researchers busy for a very long time.  

 3.  Search for Potential ETC Satellites:

Discovering potential 1 meter-scale or smaller satellites that may be exploring Earth, e.g., in polar orbits a few hundred km above Earth, may become feasible with VRO in 2023 and later, but if radar, optical and infrared technologies have been mastered by an ETC, then very sophisticated large telescopes on Earth might be required. We will design advanced algorithmic and AI/DL object recognition and fast filtering methods that the Galileo Project intends to deploy, initially on non-orbiting telescopes. 

This sounds good. But "The United States Space Surveillance Network detects, tracks, catalogs and identifies artificial objects orbiting Earth, e.g. active/inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, or fragmentation debris. The system is the responsibility of United States Space Command and operated by the United States Space Force."

How small an object in earth orbit can the Space Surveillance Network track? "The SSN typically tracks space objects which are 10 centimeters in diameter (baseball size) or larger."

So, the proposed Galileo tracking network will be looking for possible unseen alien surveillance satellites that are up to ten times larger than those usually detected by  the Space Surveillance Network (and thus having a hundred times greater radar cross section). This is reassuring: so if the SSN, which typically detects orbiting objects down to baseball size, happens to keep missing all those orbiting alien satellites of beach ball size, fear not! Galileo will find them!!


  1. Travis Walton can be employed as 'Martian Consultant'. In fact, Mr. Walton could be on to big money if he goes freelance.

    1. Yep , he could set up office in a gentry tower

  2. After the Galileo Project is over Ufoologists, what's next? If nothing is discovered by the Project, do we all go back to the classics, i.e., Roswell, Aztec, the English forest incident, the Roswell slides, etc., etc.? It always amazes me that the so-called experts in this "field" always goes back to the same tire old classics, as if there is evidence still to be pitiful and sorry! We need to go forward, forget the past dubious UFO events, and look FORWARD, not the past!

  3. Maybe they need to fit some of this hi-res imaging stuff to Air Force planes, as they are the ones that seem to be seeing all these UAPs at present.

  4. Maybe they need to fit some of this hi-res imaging stuff to Air Force planes, as they are the ones that seem to be seeing all these UAPs at present.

  5. Maybe they need to fit some of this hi-res imaging stuff to Air Force planes, as they are the ones that seem to be seeing all these UAPs at present.

  6. I am an MSC Engineer, worked in the aircraft industry and for the government a very long time. It is hard to understand that pilots, engineers, policeman...etc, are being treated like idiots if they see something in bright daylight (UAP) and report it. Ignorance is hard to beat: What we know is but a droplet, what we do not know is an ocean (Sir Isaac Newton)

  7. It's not hard to understand at all - appeal to authority is a fallacious argument to begin with. None of the peopel you mention are trained observers, nor are they more qualified than anybody else to judge what UFOs are "supposed" to look like. They are not treated like "idiots" either - they are simply held to the same standards that apply for extraordinary claims. And so far no extraordinary evidence has been presented from any of the groups you've mentioned. Quite to the contrary, even Hynek himself had to admit that pilots for exmaple make for very poor eyewitnesses. So far every time enough high quality data is availble none of these claims hold up to scrutiny, and as the Pentagon videos have shown "expert" eyewitnesses don't know how parallax or nightvision devices work.


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