NO Spaceships Headed for Earth

Has the SETI Institute discovered three objects en route to our world? Alien spacecraft that will arrive in 2012?

If you believe a widespread story now being circulated on the internet, and published by the ironically named "Pravda", you might think so. But it's all nonsense - it's a rumor, a hoax, and a fabrication that uncritical web sites have reprinted without checking.

A few aspects of the story that are obviously suspect:

1) The objects, now described as a few hundred kilometers in size, and "beyond the orbit of Pluto", were apparently discovered by SETI using the HAARP radio array. To begin with, the HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) instrument is located in Alaska. The position of the three "incoming" objects is given as -90 degrees declination - or the south celestial pole. Anyone versed in even elementary geometry can recognize that you can't see this part of the sky from Alaska! In addition, and of clear import, neither the SETI Institute nor any other SETI project makes use of HAARP.

2) In the original version of this article, purported SETI astrophysicist Craig Kasnov is quoted as saying that the three objects are in-bound. No one named Craig Kasnov has ever worked at the SETI Institute. There is a media and conservation professional by name of Craig Kasnoff, who - with David Gedye - came up with the idea of the SETI@home screen saver many years ago. But he has explicitly noted that he has nothing to do with this story, and in fact the article itself points out that it is referencing "Kasnov" not "Kasnoff." So the story rests on the testimony of a fictional character.

3) If the SETI Institute had, indeed, found three clearly artificial objects headed for Earth (or just about anywhere else), that news would be found here on its web site. It would also be in the mainstream media. It's not.

The putative arrival in 2012 of objects from another world is no more believable than the Mayan calendar claim that the world will end in that same year, internet stories notwithstanding!

Dr. Seth Shostak
Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute