The Galileo Project was founded in July 2021 by Dr. Avi Loeb, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard's Astronomy Department and Dr. Frank Laukien, Visiting Scholar at Harvard's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The project, led by Professor Loeb, is composed almost entirely of volunteers, many of whom are active research scientists hailing from other academic institutions, who generously dedicate their time and expertise to the project, its two primary branches and various sub-projects.
In addition to the core research team, the Galileo Project has amassed a remarkable team of advisors and affiliates, professionals who offer useful expertise and input to the research team on a wide range of scientific and non-scientific subjects relevant to the success of the project.
The core research functions of the effort are divided into two “branches,” one studying unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) and the other studying interstellar objects (ISOs). Within each branch there are multiple smaller teams solving for specific needs of the project. Additionally, a sub-group has been formalized to evaluate the hypothetical societal implications (SI) of this broad area of work.
The Galileo Project takes a "big tent" approach to problem solving, drawing upon the scientific, engineering and humanities expertise of a large community. These dedicated individuals, many of whom are well-known in their respective fields, are drawn to the project's rigorously scientific approach to a subject rarely explored by academia, and all participants are committed to the core goals and philosophy of the project.
The UAP branch of the Galileo Project seeks to examine the possibility of extraterrestrial origin for UAP, by making observations of objects in and near Earth’s atmosphere, filtering out identifiable objects using AI deep learning algorithms trained on rigorous classification of known objects, and then examining the nature of the remaining data for anomalous characteristics.
The ISO branch seeks to understand the origins of interstellar objects (ISOs) that exhibit characteristics which differ from typical asteroids and comets, like `Oumuamua or the first interstellar meteor CNEOS 2014-01-08, through discovery and characterization initiatives involving astronomical and atmospheric surveys, expeditions to retrieve meteor fragments, as well as space-based observations.
Social implications sub-group
An SI sub-group has formed to examine the many ways in which hypothetical future discoveries of extraterrestrial intelligence (by the Galileo Project or other research efforts) could impact society beyond the sciences.
Areas of expertise
There are many areas of scientific knowledge and expertise represented on the Galileo Project. Within the research team there is extensive experience in:
- Atmospheric science
- Computer science
- Electrical engineering
- Experimental physics
- Hardware engineering
- Instrumentation and optical manufacturing
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Observational analysis
- Planetary science
- Plasma physics
- Project management
- Software engineering
- Theoretical physics
Additionally, the project makes use of researchers and practitioners in a variety of humanities disciplines, including:
- History (including history of science)
- Media studies
- Religious studies
- Science journalism