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"The above [analysis] has been intended to provide prima facie evidence that 1991 VG is a candidate alien artifact. The alternative explanations - that it was a peculiar asteroid, or a man-made body - are both estimated to be unlikely, but require further investigation."
Duncan Steel, SETA and 1991 VG, The Observatory, vol. 115, p. 78-83 (1995)
November 6, 1991 began as a relatively routine night for astronomer James Scotti. Working at the University of Arizona’s Kitt Peak observatory, Scotti was scanning the cosmos for asteroids when he discovered a small, fast moving object with highly unusual features. Only about 10 meters in diameter, the object exhibited an anomalous rate of rotation, fluctuations in brightness and speed for its size, suggesting to Scotti that it was something other than your “run-of-the-mill” main belt asteroid. Stranger still, the object was in a heliocentric orbit remarkably similar to that of Earth.
Over the past two decades various authors have debated whether the best place to look for such artifacts is in the asteroid belt, in the outer Solar System, on planetary surfaces, or as extra terrestrial probes in the inner Solar System, whereas the famous Fermi Paradox argument is based upon the understanding that such probes have not been detected, and thus extraterrestrial intelligent beings do not exist. The aim of this communication is to point out [...] that an extraterrestrial spaceprobe may have been detected in late 1991 in near-Earth space.
Wouldn't that apply to Earth's orbit too?
I think the mystery regarding this object is that if it were simply a wandering rock in an orbit similar to the Earth, its orbit should have degraded or changed, as without some kind of artificial correction it couldn't remain where it is.
On November 6, 1991, Scotti discovered a faint object which was designated 1991 VG soon after discovery. The object's heliocentric orbit was found to be very similar to Earth's orbit and it was calculated that it would make a close approach to Earth just a month after discovery (on December 5, 1991). Given such an Earth-like orbit, the dynamical lifetime of such an object is relatively short with the object quickly either impacting Earth or being perturbed by Earth onto a different orbit. The similarity of its orbit with Earth was also very difficult to explain from natural sources, with ejecta from a recent Lunar impact or non-gravitational perturbations such as the Yarkovsky effect having been suggested. The first Earth Trojan asteroid - 2010 TK7 has been identified and such objects could well be a source for objects like 1991 VG.
So, the debate is still alive, and may continue to be so until someone can recover it next time it comes back around and then someday we can go out and take a close look. Does it have a regolith or a rocky surface or does it have "USA" or "CCCP" painted on the side? My guess is that it is indeed a natural object, but if it is manmade, perhaps it is a Saturn IVB stage from one of the early Apollo missions. As I recall, at least one left the 3rd stage in a high Earth orbit that would have eventually been perturbed into solar orbit.
[...]fluctuations in brightness and speed for its size
originally posted by: Terminal1
a reply to: Jonjonj
"What if..." is a two edged sword. I mean it could be something wonderful which grows our knowledge and understanding. But I also bet that "what if..." can also be put in the list of "famous last words".
originally posted by: Kandinsky
a reply to: jeep3r
That part sparks my curiosity.
Fluctuating brightness could be explained by rotation. What would account for fluctuating speed and what does he mean by 'fluctuating?' Is the speed a fact based on a snapshot or from long observation.
These are just initial thoughts and questions.
Yet according to Scotti, in the years since he spotted 1991 VG, it was discovered that a significant portion of asteroids under 100 meters have remarkably fast rotation periods. Thus for an object as small as 1991 VG, a rotation period of a few minutes, while rare, is not impossible. It would simply mean that the object is a monolithic structure, a small boulder, rather than a rubble pile.