In late 2017, an interstellar object entered our solar system, stopped for a bit, and then left. It can fit inside a football field. It was turning somehow. It may or may not be accelerated. It’s been wandering the Milky Way for millions, perhaps billions of years. We don’t know what it is. Astronomers have taken to calling the object ‘Oumuamua’, which loosely means “scout”. We don’t know what it was. Nobody knows what it was. We only have theories. What we have is a slow build-up plan for what to do if this happens again. here more of Phys.Org:
… Observers began to debate the question of whether space agencies such as NASA should make plans to study such an object should another appear. In this new effort, the researchers studied the conditions surrounding the emergence and departure of ‘Oumuamua, as well as other solar objects such as asteroids or comets. They also looked at current projects such as ESP’s Comet Interceptor, Comet Interceptor. Then they made a list of needs in the event that a project was developed to create a probe capable of intercepting an interstellar visitor.
The researchers began with the assumption that such a task would be based on search, not destruction. And that such research would entail taking pictures and using devices to learn more about the installation of such an object. Because of that, they note, a probe with these capabilities must be built. They further suggest that it would require a spectrophotometer sensitive to wavelength range 0.4 to 2.5 micrometers to distinguish between natural and synthetic materials.
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