NEW YORK - Meteors – pieces of rock from space – find their way through Earth's atmosphere all the time. One pierced a roof and ended up in someone’s home in Titusville, New Jersey, just a couple of months ago.
But there was something different about one such fireball from 2014, according to Harvard astrophysicist Dr. Avi Loeb.
In fact, he says, it was moving faster than any meteor that had ever entered Earth's atmosphere in the past.
"We decided to go to the site of the fireball in the Pacific Ocean and check for any remaining materials from it," Loeb said.
What might seem like finding a needle in a haystack was really more like finding "a needle in an ocean," he said.
But something crazy happened when Loeb and his team arrived in the waters off Papua New Guinea and dragged a sled equipped with specialized magnets along the ocean floor.
"Amazingly, we found the materials.
What they found were metallic marbles, less than a millimeter in diameter.
"Beautiful spheres that were colored – blue, brown or gold," Loeb continued.
The exact composition of those spheres are now being studied at three separate laboratories, including one at Harvard. They'll also be working to determine the age of the material.
But U.S. Space Command has already issued a formal letter to NASA stating that with 99.999% confidence they believe the materials are interstellar, meaning they came from outside our solar system.
The biggest question is this: Was it a naturally occurring space rock or was it a piece of technology? If it is, in fact, technological, that means it was likely made by alien life form in another solar system.
"It [would be] probably the most important discovery that humanity ever made," Loeb added.