Are Aliens Monitoring Earth Using Co-Orbital Proxies?

EnolaGaia

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This is an interesting take on possible SETI scanning targets which I don't recall anyone proposing before. It involves alien monitors placed on, or masquerading as, co-orbitals - objects orbiting the sun at approximately the same distance as earth.
Astronomer probes idea of ET ‘lurkers’

What would an extraterrestrial intelligence need to observe Earth, long-term, from nearby? Materials, a firm anchor, concealment? Earth’s co-orbital objects, or quasi-satellites, might be the ideal place to “lurk.”

Could there be alien probes “lurking” near Earth? That’s a scenario recently explored in a new paper by James Benford of Microwave Sciences. The idea is that a group of co-orbital, rocky asteroids near Earth – also known as quasi-satellites – would be the perfect place to hide a probe, in order to conduct observations of Earth undetected.

Benford’s new peer-reviewed paper discussing this possibility was published in The Astronomical Journal on September 20, 2019 ...

Basically, his premise is that this group of recently discovered co-orbital rocky asteroids near Earth – sharing a similar orbit to Earth’s but not orbiting Earth itself – would be an ideal location to hide an alien probe. From the vantage point of a co-orbital asteroid, the extraterrestrial civilization could gather observations of Earth while remaining hidden.

It’s an intriguing idea. Not only would these sorts of asteroids allow concealment of the probe, but they would also supply raw materials (via some kind of mining activity) and constant solar energy, if the probe needed them.

These co-orbitals have been little studied by astronomers so far, and not at all yet by SETI or planetary radar observations.

Benford calls hypothetical, hidden, unknown and unseen alien probes by the name lurkers. In theory, they would be robotic, like our own robot probes sent out to explore our solar system, but doubtless much more advanced. It’s possible that a lurker could be in our solar system, hiding on one of Earth’s co-orbital asteroids, for thousands or millions of years, just silently watching.

Benford suggests that searching for lurkers would be an interesting new type of SETI, which traditionally has focused on looking for artificial radio or light signals from distant stars. But if there were alien probes literally in our own backyard, we could actually go and observe them. Scientists could first look for them in the electromagnetic spectrum of microwaves and light or by using planetary radar. ...
FULL STORY: https://earthsky.org/space/alien-lurker-probes-co-orbital-asteroids-earth
 

EnolaGaia

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Here's the bibliographic data and abstract for Benford's published paper.
Looking for Lurkers: Co-orbiters as SETI Observables
James Benford
Published 2019 September 20 • © 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
The Astronomical Journal, Volume 158, Number 4

Abstract

A recently discovered group of nearby co-orbital objects is an attractive location for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) to locate a probe to observe Earth while not being easily seen. These near-Earth objects provide an ideal way to watch our world from a secure natural object. That provides resources an ETI might need: materials, a firm anchor, and concealment. These have been little studied by astronomy and not at all by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) or planetary radar observations. I describe the objects found thus far and propose both passive and active observations of them as possible sites for extraterrestrial (ET) probes.
SOURCE: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-3881/ab3e35
 

EnolaGaia

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The notion of advanced aliens placing a sensor / surveillance platform to monitor earth inevitably makes one think of Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" (the thematic inspiration for the monolith in Kubrick's 2001):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sentinel_(short_story)
 

eburacum

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#4
James Benford is always worth listening to. With his more-famous twin brother Gregory, he has also done some very interesting work about external propulsion methods that gives me hope that interstellar travel is not only possible, but likely. We need to explore as much of the Solar System as possible, in the expectation that some alien race has left traces somewhere in the last four billion years.
 
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