The decision to launch this project evolved from the evaluation of credible new observations from the last few years.
The discovery of multitudes of Earth-like exoplanets previously unknown to us within our own Milky Way showcases the need to explore the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe.
We now know that Earth-like planets are some of the most common in the galaxy. There is an increasing scientific interest in analyzing the potential remote detection of biomarkers in the atmospheres of habitable exoplanets. In recent decades, several scientific projects have also focused on the search for technological signals from exoplanets.
To date, there has been no similar scientific survey for potential technological artifacts in the vicinity of our own planet, Earth.
On October 19th, 2017, astronomers discovered the first interstellar object from outside the solar system, named 'Oumuamua. The object, the first confirmed interstellar object to visit the solar system, did not resemble any comet or asteroid observed before. It was inferred to have a flat shape and moved away from the Sun as if it were thin enough to be pushed by sunlight. Moreover, this pancake-shaped object tumbled every 8 hours and originated from the rare state of the Local Standard of Rest, which averages over the motions of all the stars in the vicinity of the Sun.
Its highly anomalous properties, defying well-understood natural explanations, raised new questions for astronomers. Was 'Oumuamua a natural phenomenon created by never before seen processes, or was it an extraterrestrial technological artifact, such as a light-sail or communication dish? Is it a frozen nitrogen fragment from an exoplanet? How frequently do such objects enter the solar system? Following the scientific method, all options should be kept on the table.
2021 ODNI Report
In 2021 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its preliminary report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs). This report included an asessment of 144 unexplained military reports of encounters between 2004 and 2021. Observations of these encounters included evidence of performance well beyond current technological capabilities, ruling out foreign and domestic sources. According to the report, “a majority of UAP were registered across multiple sensors, to include radar, infrared, electro-optical, weapon seekers and visual observation.” However, the collected data was too limited to make more concrete assessments at that time. The report concluded by urging more investigation and better collection processes.
In light of these developments, we believe the scientific community must now pay attention, and apply systematic and transparent scientific methodology to the study of these phenomena. Discoveries in this pursuit would have enormous impact on science and the entirety of the human experience. Any investigation into poorly understood phenomena will result in scientific advances, regardless of the origin. We must dare to look through new telescopes literally and figuratively in order to pursue the scientific method objectively and make new discoveries.
About the project name
The reference to Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was chosen in view of the possibility that the Galileo Project may make path-breaking discoveries regarding ETCs. The importance of the potential discoveries of rigorously validated scientific evidence of extraterrestrial technology may be similar in impact on astronomy and our world view as Galileo's pioneering use of telescopes for astronomical observations were in history.
Galileo’s improved design of an optical telescope allowed him to discover the four largest moons of Jupiter in 1609-1610. These Galilean moons were the first satellites found to orbit a planet other than Earth. Galileo also discovered Saturn's rings in 1610.
Both discoveries provided key evidence in favor of the model of heliocentrism, developed by Nicolaus Copernicus and published in 1543, which gradually displaced the previous, dogmatic and incorrect geocentric model of the universe. According to popular legend, after recanting under persecution his theory that the Earth moved around the Sun, Galileo allegedly muttered the rebellious phrase, "And yet it moves!" Galileo also complained that some of the philosophers who opposed his discoveries had refused even to look through his telescope, e.g., to see the mountains on the Moon, or the four largest moons of Jupiter.
Let us not repeat their mistake.