The U.S. Air Force says it’s making a breakthrough in the search for extraterrestrial life with a new version of a drone that can take pictures of tiny spacecraft.
The Air Force said it has created the new Airborne Imaging and Surveillance System, or AIS-S, to gather imagery and data on small spacecrafts, called craft, that might have a human crew on board.
“It can be used to map a craft, to take photos of it, to find out where it’s headed, to track it,” Lt.
Col. Ryan Bales, a spokesman for the Air Force’s Missile Systems Command, told reporters.
The AIS system, which can be equipped with cameras, infrared cameras, and lasers, is designed to help the Air Department detect alien craft that have gone undetected by humans.
The AAS-S is designed for missions that are limited by technology and cost, Bales said.
It has been in testing since October and will be in production in early 2019, he said.
The program was originally called the Airborne Radar System, but was renamed to AIS due to the name being associated with the spacecraft, he added.
Its main goal is to provide a better picture of small spacecraft, which could provide clues to the origin of life, he explained.
The military is looking for evidence that extraterrestrial civilizations are exploring Earth.
“The technology and capability is there to get a good image, and then we can look for evidence of extraterrestrial presence,” Bales explained.
If the spacecrafts are small, the AIS can capture the data in a way that is sensitive to light, he told reporters at a news conference.
Other countries have used cameras to find alien life before, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, which has captured images of a giant alien body, known as the Ganymede, that is thought to be the first known contact between a planet and a star.
The Hubble Space Shuttle was also a spacecraft that was spotted by a drone, but the mission was aborted.
However, a small spacecraft could provide a way to investigate the possibility that life may exist elsewhere, Bays said.
“I think we’ve come a long way, and it’s going to take a long time to catch up to what we did,” he said, adding that he was not sure when the AAS would be ready for combat.