It's Not Quiet

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Mark Abernathy, Association Press

First Contact? NASA may have found a second Earth

04/09/2014 - Several "top-secret" files are out, according to WikiLeaks. Reports of this nature have been "highly unusual and provoking", remarked Angelina Shostakov, head of the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants.

Web activity prior to the recent release had initially been sporadic. However, on 04/08/2014, at approximately 03:15 A.M., the site garnered a 312% uptick in visits, according to Google.

The unnamed exoplanet, on the lower left; parent star was omitted for better visual clarity. Source: NASA

NASA ordered the immediate removal of the documents, citing "incomplete research" and violations of 32 CFR Parts 2001 and 2004, its implementing directive on restrictions of releasing classified information to the media. The original iteration has been deleted from the site (the Wayback Machine doesn't work either), although several screenshots are circulating on social media platforms, including Reddit and Facebook.

The screenshots included images taken by NASA interstellar satellite Expedition-01 (launched in 1971): a terrestrial exoplanet, located in the Pegasus constellation, 40 light-years (ly) away. This unnamed planet orbits a yet-to-be-identified K-type main-sequence star,1 albeit at 97% of the orbital radius between Earth and our solar neighbor; a theoretical plausibility of a second Earth.

Another picture showed three to four massive "hot spots", possibly spanning several hundred kilometers wide dotting the planet, where the brightest point lay in the center of these patches. According to Dr. John Whittens, a professor teaching astronomy, spatial analysis and satellite imagery at Princeton University, he was cautiously speculating "these sources could be lights, but we do not know for sure." Questioned if these lights could be the result of a natural process or artificial, he was "unsure due to the extensive cloud cover over the landmass."

NASA has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Correction: On 04/18/2014, at 1:13 A.M., the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) reported a significant gamma-ray burst originating from the collapse of an unrelated star, located approximately 0.4 ly from the unidentified exoplanet. Its ozone layer was destroyed and its polar ice caps dissipated, with atmospheric temperatures averaging at 530K. Additionally, the following image (composed of 189 frames stitched in chronological order) was disclosed by WikiLeaks before prompt removal.


Disclosed image. Source: NASA

On 04/21/2014, at 5:02 P.M., NASA HYDSat, an instrument deployed in tandem with ICESat in 2003 purposed for satellite altimetry, detected significant disruptions in the planet's topography by several kilometers. A peak was reached at 7:14 P.M., measuring at 2,300km before collapsing.

At 4:16 A.M. the next day, HYDSat began a controlled descent into the planet's atmosphere as part of its final mission directive. Entering the atmosphere, audio receivers detected a steady "howling" sound before striking an unknown object and subsequently losing contact. No strong winds were present.

NASA has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Afterword: The article has been taken down and archived. Use of confiscated COLLICULUS firmware in civilian assets will continue in interstellar research.

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