Space Quote: Dandelion-Like Space Probes?

Credit: Swansons Nursery.

“Nevertheless, the coincidences between some orbital parameters of ‘Oumuamua and IM2 inspires us to consider the possibility that an artificial interstellar object could potentially be a parent craft that releases many small probes during its close passage to Earth, an operational construct not too dissimilar from NASA missions. These “dandelion seeds” could be separated from the parent craft by the tidal gravitational force of the Sun or by a maneuvering capability. A small ejection speed far away could lead to a large deviation from the trajectory of the parent craft near the Sun. The changes would manifest both in arrival time and distance of closest approach to Earth. With proper design, these tiny probes would reach the Earth or other Solar system planets for exploration, as the parent craft passes by within a fraction of the Earth-Sun separation – just like ‘Oumuamua did.”

-Statement in a March 7, 2023 draft paper, Physical Constraints on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, written by Harvard astronomer Abraham (Avi) Loeb and US Department of Defense Director Sean M. Kirkpatrick. The paper makes reference to both the interstellar object ‘Oumuamuaa and the meter-size interstellar meteor (IM2) that collided with Earth on March 9, 2023. This research was supported in part by Galileo Project at Harvard University and conducted in partnership with the Department of Defense, All-domain, Anomaly Resolution Office.