Outer Space

Study: Alien Observers Might Use Tiny Interstellar Space Probes

We’ve been hearing a lot of curious statements by scientists this year, things about living in the Matrix, and even  reptiles on Mars. Now, we have a recent study that considers the possibility of miniature alien probes.

The study arrives courtesy astrophysicist Zaza Osmanov of the Free University of Tibilsi, Georgia, and was published in the International Journal of Astrobiology. Osmanov set out to provide a potential answer to the age-old Fermi paradox: In short, in a universe so expansive, why haven’t we found any aliens?

Osmanov suggests that aliens might actually be right in front of us. But really, really tiny, and in the form of “self-reproducing extraterrestrial Von-Neumann micro scale robots.” To find them, we may need to adjust the way we search. From the abstract:

“…we consider efficiency of self-reproducing extraterrestrial Von-Neumann micro scale robots and analyse the observational characteristics. By examining the natural scenario of moving in the HII clouds, it has been found that the timescale of replication might be several years and even less – making the process of observation quite promising. ”

The paper itself references current searches by SETI involving “artificial radio signals” and more speculative extraterrestrial signals like the presence of Dyson spheres, or “spherical megastructures visible in the infrared spectrum” built around stars.

However, it predominantly explores the idea of “self-replicating micro-scale interstellar probes.” Osmanov’s main point seems to be that a Type II extraterrestrial civilization might use these micro-scale probes for space exploration, and said probes would likely emit energy that we’d be able to detect.

The probes would use hydrogen atoms found in interstellar clouds for fuel. According to Osmanov, they’d potentially exist in large swarms similar in mass to comets, and be “visible in the infrared spectral band.”

While there’s no evidence that such alien probes exist, it’s an interesting idea, and something organizations like SETI might want to keep in mind for the future.

To be honest, the whole thing reminds me of an entry from a little-known book called the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, involving a freak wormhole and a terrible miscalculation of scale.


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.


  1. Didn’t scientists recently find out there was some kind of extremely hot barrier at the edge of our solar system? Maybe there is intelligent life beyond our solar system, but that barrier is a problem. Just a thought on this subject.

    1. Yeah, I remember reading about that, another obstacle we’ll have to face. Between that and the sheer distances/time involved in visiting other worlds, maybe every civilization out there exists in its own little bubble.

  2. You say in the blog: “Osmanov’s paper has not yet been peer-reviewed” – but it is published: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1473550419000259
    Could you kindly revise the text?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Updated. I suppose my previous source was outdated.

      Thanks for your comment (and paper! It’s really interesting stuff).