(DailyVantage.com) – In 2014, a fireball crashed through the Earth’s atmosphere over Papua, New Guinea, at speeds faster than the average velocity of those found in our solar system. The event sparked debate over whether it was a meteor or something else. Additionally, scientists couldn’t verify information regarding the incident due to government secrecy. A new memo is providing additional insight into the situation and raising new questions.
In 2019, Harvard University researchers released a study claiming the fireball was an interstellar object, a meteor. However, as they tried to get more information about the meteor, they discovered the US Department of Defense was in charge of some of the fireball-detecting sensors that tracked the meteor, but had classified the data surrounding the event.
While Harvard University astrophysics student Dr. Amir Siraj, who led the research team, worked with his team to get the data released from the government, the scientists effectively shelved the study. That is, until this year when the US Space Command released the following memo.
6/ “I had the pleasure of signing a memo with @ussfspoc’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Mozer, to confirm that a previously-detected interstellar object was indeed an interstellar object, a confirmation that assisted the broader astronomical community.” pic.twitter.com/PGlIOnCSrW
— U.S. Space Command (@US_SpaceCom) April 7, 2022
The meteor in question measured a mere few feet wide, but its origins could have broader implications and open up the study into what else may be out in the universe. For now, Siraj is focusing on obtaining a peer review of the study before publishing so that other researchers can pick up where he left off. If successful, the study may lead to an expedition scouring the ocean floor for fragments for further evaluation.
Siraj believes this could be the opening the scientific community needs to investigate other fireballs that have made it through the Earth’s atmosphere. “We might as well use the whole atmosphere and see what comes our way.”
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